15 Jan Colonel Sanders and burning goats: Christmas traditions to sample around the world
Christmas. It’s all about Santa, snow, mistletoe and mince pies. When Shakin’ Stevens is wheeled out for his annual dust-down and grandma drinks a few too many Baileys before falling asleep in front of the fire. Right? Wrong. As anybody who has ever had the pleasure of spending Christmas abroad knows all too well, the festive period around the world is a rich tapestry of time-honoured traditions.
There is a whole range of things to see and do all over the world around the Christmas period and with a handful of days off work strung together around Christmas and the New Year, it makes sense to do a little, or a lot, of travelling.
“Christmas in Diani ☀️❄️🎄⛱�” (CC BY-NC 2.0) by The Sands Kenya
Take Venezuela, for example. The community tradition of heading to the local church is nothing new to Brits, of course, but as per a Lottoland blog post, Venezuelan families young and old travel to their place of worship by a very unusual method of transport indeed: Rollerskates. Hand in hand, some wobbling at the knees, an early-morning mass is put on and roads closed to accommodate for entire villages making their way down.
It’s a sight to behold of course and is up there with the most bizarre of the Christmas traditions, but it’s certainly not alone when it comes to outside-of-the-box yuletide frolics for worldly travellers to experience.
Many are becoming wise to the incredible experiences Japan has to offer, especially around Christmas time. Excess is all part of the package over that way and no expense is spared when it comes to parties, markets and celebrations. As reported by the BBC, when it comes to settling down for a family meal on December 25th, they plump for something a modest KFC family bucket. After a huge advertising campaign by the American fast-food giant in 197, it has become the go-to cuisine and families have to book their buckets weeks in advance.
“KFC Ojiisan…” (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) by Tasayu Tasnaphun
Another increasingly popular but nonetheless unspoilt travelling destination is Cuba, which offers Christmas holiday-makers with hot, sunny climes alongside an opportunity to sample one of the most interesting festivals in the world. In Remedios, a stunning city just a couple of miles from the north of the island, there is a festival held every year that celebrates light and community. Known as the Parrandas festival, each major building provides a sculpture made from light bulbs and it is a trip well worth making according to travel experts Holiday Place, who describes the experience as ‘merry chaos – exhilarating and scary’.
Somewhere a little more traditional in the eyes of Brits would be Sweden, where snowy scenery and log cabins conjure images of a picture-perfect Christmas. There is also the exciting image of the large straw Yule goat in flames, of course. Authorities in Gavre engage in a battle with local youths who attempt to destroy the goat, often by setting it on fire, and in the 50 years since the traditions started, the goat has survived to Christmas day only a dozen times.
While the comfort of a Christmas at home is what people around the world look forward to all year round, it’s well worth escaping the traditions of Blighty for the festive period and sinking into another culture. Whether you end up packing your rollerskates, tucking into some chicken or setting a goat alight, your Christmas away might well be your best one yet.