5 Unique Christmas Traditions
Christmas is a time full of celebration and excitement! People all over the world, from East to West and from North to South are getting ready for the Christmas! For some Christmas is simply Christmas eve and Christmas day and for others, Christmas starts as early as December 7th. With so many people celebrating, it’s not hard to believe that there is an almost endless number of Christmas traditions. Check out these five fun Christmas traditions from around the world!
The Christmas Pickle
Photo Courtesy of Kelly Rowe
A Christmas tradition soaked in mystery and seasoned with uncertainty. The Christmas Pickle is the tradition of hiding a green pickle ornament on the Christmas tree. The legend says that something special happens to the kid who finds the pickle first. Sometime’s that means the child gets to open the first present, get an extra present or gets to pass out the presents on Christmas morning. Originally the story claimed to be of German origin, however, many Germans had never heard of the tradition. Today there are two legends that surround the Christmas Pickle. One story claims that during the American Civil War, a German soldier who was starving begged a guard for a pickle as his final wish. The guard took pity and give the soldier the pickle and the pickle gave the young man enough strength that he lived and was able to return home to his family. Every Christmas after the soldier would hang a pickle on the tree.
This next tradition might sound a little familiar! In Brazil, a common tradition is one called Amigo Secreto, known in English as Secret Friend the name brings to mind the tradition of Secret Santa. The two traditions are very similar and even start the same! Family members or a group of friends begin by writing down everybody’s names on pieces of paper. Then everybody gets to pick a name, (make sure you don’t get yours!) During the next several days the group will send letters to whoever’s name they drew. The letters will be signed with a pseudonym but will contain hints about who the author is! Finally, on Christmas day everybody gets together to try and guess who their Amigo Secreto was. The game ends when you reveal who’s Amigo Secreto you are and give them their gift!
Photo Courtesy of Jane Vasarhelyi
Las Posadas is a novenario, a nine-day religious celebration, that has been celebrated in Mexico and Latin American countries for nearly 400 years. The tradition of Las Posadas commemorates the journey Mary and Joseph made from Nazareth to Bethlehem and their struggles to find a safe and warm place to stay. Beginning on December 16th and going until December 24th a different family agrees to represent the Inn. Then a procession of people, some dressed as angels and shepherds and many carrying candles, begin a journey through the streets. The pilgrims wander from door to door singing songs and asking for lodging. The procession is continually turned away until they arrive at last at the designated home. Finally, the weary pilgrims are welcomed with prayer, food, more singing, and celebration!
Photo Courtesy of Museum of Witchcraft
Recorded for the first time in 1800, the origins of this Christmas tradition are a mystery. Some say it is a purely Christian tradition, a way to commemorate the journey of Mary and Joseph from Nazareth to Bethlehem. Others insist it can’t be anything except for Pagan in origin. Either way, the tradition of the Mari Lwyd is definitely unique. The Mari Lwyd is the skull of a mare that has been attached to a long pole. The skull is then decorated with colorful ribbons, Christmas ornaments, and other fun things people manage to find. Then a white cloth is attached. Someone is selected to play the Mari Lwyd, carrying the skull by the pole while remaining hidden under the white cloth. Then the Mari Lwyd, accompanied by a small procession goes door to door asking for entrance. However, when the Mari Lwyd shows up on your doorstep you don’t just tell it to leave, you engage in a sing-off. That’s right! The Mari Lwyd and the occupants of the homes have to have a battle of rhyming and melodic wits. After a while, the Mari Lwyd will win and be granted entry. In exchange for refreshments, the Mari Lwyd will bestow good luck on the home.
Dia de las Velitas
One of the most breathtaking Christmas traditions has got to be Columbia’s Dia de las Velitas, or the Day of the Little Candles. Dia de las Velitas is celebrated starting at sunset on December 7th until sunrise on December 8th. It is the celebration of the Virgin Mary’s Immaculate Conception and marks the start of the Christmas season in Columbia. On Dia de las Velitas people hang white flags with an image of Mary on them. However, the really stunning part is the number of lanterns, candles, and Christmas lights people put up. People fill their window sills and porches with candles. They hang paper lanterns from fence posts, awnings roofs, and any other place they can get their hands on. Cities will decorate streets and business will decorate storefronts and soon the whole city will be covered with warm glowing lights. Cities will host activities for families and will create pedestrian-only streets so people can enjoy the light displays and watch fireworks!
Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year! Celebrated worldwide it’s no surprise that you can find hundreds of Christmas traditions! And all of them are unique and fun, influenced by the culture and climates of the regions where Christmas is celebrated. Christmas is about celebrating the beautiful things in life, like love, family, and diversity. Celebrate Christmas with a new tradition from somewhere else in the world alongside your own family tradition and feel your heart warm with love and adventure!
By: Issa Rabideaux