Holiday Traditions Around the World
The holidays in America form a composite of Christmas traditions from around the world. You can bring a global feel to your own family’s customs by mixing your favorite activities, décor and foods with traditional holiday craft ideas from Europe, Africa and more.European Christmas Crafts
Europe’s most traditional Christmas crafts may already be a part of your own celebrations. The Christmas tree, the Advent calendar and roasting chestnuts all play vital roles in Germany’s Christmas celebrations. You can even add a German touch to your December season by meeting to light a calendar on an Advent wreath. Sing carols and drink hot chocolate after. If you have children, don’t forget to deliver a small piece of chocolate from the start of Advent through December 24th.
If you celebrate Christmas, you most likely place stockings and leave cookies for Santa on Christmas Eve. These English traditions are two of the world’s most popular customs, along with placing holly and ivy greenery around the home. Eat a large meal on Christmas Day with a mince pie — mincemeat is made from suet, nuts and dried fruits such as cherries, raisins, candied peels and currants. Relax afterwards and burn a Yule log, a Norwegian tradition.
December Is a Time for Global Celebration
American Christmas may have a strong foundation in Europe’s traditions, but countries from around the world celebrate the December holidays in beautiful and interesting ways. Kenyans, for example, handcraft carved soapstone ornaments and decorate a cypress tree with grass, Masai beads and recycled aluminum. Cities empty out during the holidays so workers can return to the country to celebrate with their families. Kenyans make mandazi, a sweet doughnut, and chapati, an African bread.
Another African tradition is Kwanzaa, which was first celebrated in 1966. It’s a weeklong celebration that celebrates African culture, and it features singing and drumming in addition to selected readings. Participants recite the African pledge or tell stories of African history. Kwanzaa is a fast-growing holiday tradition.
You’ve no doubt heard of Hanukkah, which is one of the most famous December holiday celebrations. But did you know that the Jewish people celebrate it to mark a historic victory over the Greeks? Jewish people from around the world celebrate over 8 nights by lighting successive candles on the menorah and giving 1 gift each day. Hanukkah takes place over a different 8-night period in December each year.
Celebrating the New Year
Once the excitement of the December holidays is over, it’s time to get ready for New Year’s Eve. What better way to celebrate than with Japanese Omisoka? Gather for a late dinner on New Year’s Eve, and strike a cast bell 108 times at midnight to symbolize the suffering caused by human desires.
However you celebrate the December holidays, enjoy them — and Happy New Year!