Christmas Around the World


Photos courtesy of Google images

Gabriella Poradek, staff writer

Christmas time is here, and all around the world, people are celebrating! While some partake in baking cookies, listening to the holiday music, or watching Christmas movies as they count the days until good old St. Nick comes down their chimney, others, like the people of Caracas Venezuela, are practicing their rollerblading skills.  Yes, Christmas, the most wonderful time of the year, is celebrated in many ways in different parts of the globe. Just look at Japan, thanks to a campaign in 1974, many Japanese families eat at KFC on Christmas Eve. If you think that’s strange, then get ready for Greenland’s unusual Christmas recipes: Mattak, raw whale skin served with blubber and Kiviakk, 500 dead auk birds stuffed in seal skin left to ferment for 7 months, are some cultural favorites, yum.
Christmas definitely looks a little different everywhere. Since 1966, building a 13-meter tall Yule Goat has been part of Swedish tradition that involves people trying to burn the goat down. Just FYI, the Goat has been successfully burned down 29 times.
In Germany, St. Nicolas often brings Knecht Ruprecht, a devil-like character dressed in dark cloths covered in belts. He had a dirty beard and is known to carry a stick or small whip to punish misbehaving children. Germany, along with other countries, believe in Krampus. Krampus is described as a half-goat, half-demon who punishes misbehaving children. By “punishing,” I mean he  stuffs them into a sack and takes them to his lair for judgment.
Another festive demon is the Yule Cat. It’s said that the Yule cat stalks the Icelandic hills devouring those who don’t receive new clothes.
Fun fact from Greece- goblins aren’t just seen in Halloween. According to Greek legends, the Kallikauntzaroi, a race of evil goblins, lurk underground only resurfacing during the 12 days of Christmas to wreak havoc. Most of their time is spent sawing at the world tree trying to make the world fall and commence an apocalypse; however, the World Tree heals itself during the goblins’ absence.
Different count down visitors appear in Iceland. The people in Iceland count down 13 days and at the end of each day, the Icelandic children are visited by the 13 Yule Lads. After placing their shoes by a window, the children go to bed and in the morning, run to find their shoes either filled with candy or rotten potatoes.
Finally, one of my favorite unorthodox Christmas traditions can be found in Norway, where people hide their brooms every Christmas Eve. The tradition dates back to when people believed that witches and evil spirits came out on Christmas Eve looking for brooms to ride.