Christmas traditions around the world

Oceana Barillaro, Contributing Writer

     A holiday celebrated by over 160 countries, Christmas is a time for presents, Santa Claus and decorating trees; or at least in the United States it is.
In Australia, they celebrate Christmas during their summer. Australians might celebrate by going to the beach or building a sandman instead of a snowman, and a recent tradition in Japan even includes eating Kentucky Fried Chicken for the sacred Christmas dinner. This tradition is fairly new but so extremely popular that families often order their buckets of chicken a couple months in advance.

     The tradition itself isn’t the most important thing, however; what’s important is the more intrinsic values of tradition, such as spending time with loved ones and continuing the traditions themselves.

     One Christmas custom adored by many people in many countries is the tradition of Christmas lights. In Armenia, Columbia citizens hold the “Día de las Velitas” or “Day of the Little Candles.” People place little candles on their doorsteps, balconies, windows and pretty much everywhere else. The vast majority of people participate in this tradition ensuring the city to have a glorious glow during the season.

     A luminous tradition slightly closer to us at home in Bloomsburg, is the Cavalcade of Lights in Toronto, Canada. The people of Toronto view this tradition as their official start to the holiday season. This tradition began to showcase Toronto’s new City Hall building in 1967.

     During the Cavalcade of Lights, the City Hall Square and surrounding Christmas trees are illuminated by over 300,000 LED lights that stay lit until 11 pm Dec. 31. On top of that they include fireworks and ice skating, if you’re brave.

     The Krampus tradition in Austria sounds like something straight out of a child’s nightmares, but is actually practiced by Austrians of all ages. During the first week of December you’ll find the streets filled with people dressed as Santa Claus’ mortal enemy- Krampus.

     Legend has it, Krampus will capture the naughtiest of boys and girls and throw them in his sack. Our coal tradition doesn’t seem as bad now.

     Instead of 12 days of Christmas, Iceland has the 13 days of The Yule Lads. The 13 days leading up to Christmas young boys and girls leave their favorite pair of shoes by a window while they sleep.

      Each night a different, mischievous troll-like character will visit each child and leave gifts for the good ones and rotting potatoes for the naughty ones. Each of the 13 mischiefs are specifically named for what kind of trouble they’re bound to cause that night.

     Each of these traditions are so unique and meaningful to the people all over the world who participate in them. Forming new memories with our loved ones is what makes our traditions and the traditions of other cultures so exciting.

     The anticipation of drinking hot chocolate with your family or getting to open only one present on Christmas Eve is what you’ll reminisce and cherish throughout your life. Maybe the most rewarding gift of all will be the connection and love that is experienced through old and new traditions.

Oceana is a freshman Mass Communications major and a Contributing Writer for The Voice.