December Traditions around the World
December is one of the most celebrated months of the year. Discover how other countries celebrate this festive period.
Not every civilization in the world follows the same traditions.
As you already know, at this time of year, most people in the Occidental World celebrate Christmas under the ‘belief’ that Saint Nicholas (or Father Christmas) will bring presents to the children that have been good during the year. Most people don’t know that this celebration is to honour a Christian Bishop that, in the 4th century, was well known in Turkey for his kindness and help with the poor.
Jews, on the other hand, celebrate Hanukkah, which means ‘Festival of Lights’ and lasts 8 days between late November and late December. They commemorate the independence of the Jews and the rededication of the Temple of Jerusalem by kindling the lights on a unique candelabrum with nine candles (one for each day and an additional one).
In Spain, for instance, Christmas is not as important as the visit of the Three Kings on the 6th of January. At the end of the year, they eat 12 grapes at midnight on the 31st of December (one with each chime), and everyone should wear red underwear!
In Argentina they also celebrate Christmas and New Year (just like in Spain and the UK), but the difference is that it is summer and most people prepare a barbecue. Also underwear must be pink! In Brazil it is yellow…so they have quite a few colours to choose! And clothes should be white for good luck. They also like to take a dip in the Pool to celebrate the New Year.
In Colombia they are very religious (mainly Christians), and they start celebrating the Novena (the Ninth) at the very beginning of the month, which lasts nine days.
In Peru they run inside the house and around the block on New Year’s Eve with suitcases to ensure they travel a lot during the incoming year.
In general terms, South Americans love to celebrate these special nights with fireworks.
They are quite religious as well, and spend Christmas with the family. The food is very important, as they get as much as 7 different dishes for dinner!! But before that, they prepare a basket with 4 nuts, honey, an apple and wafers.
The nuts are for good health, fortune and God’s blessing, and are placed in each corner of the room. In the past, they used to draw a cross on their foreheads with the honey. The apple is cut in small pieces for each member of the family so that they all eat from the same apple. Finally, they hand out wafers with honey and, in some cases, with ground raw garlic as well for anyone who want to improve their health. The following day they attend a midnight mass.
As they are Orthodox, they don’t celebrate Christmas on the 24th, but they do have a celebration on the 6th and 7th of January.
Apparently, in Muslim countries like Morocco there isn’t any special celebration, as their religion worships Allah and they don’t follow the Gregorian calendar, so they do not even celebrate the New Year in December!
Be Happy and Enjoy the Christmas Period!