Christmas Traditions Around the World

  1. Sweden: Yule Goat has been a Swedish Christmas symbol dating back to ancient pagan festivals. The tradition got a whole new life in 1966 after someone came up with the idea to make a giant straw goat, now referred to as the Gävle Goat. The goat is more than 42 feet high, 23 feet wide, and weighs 3.6 tons.
  2. Philippines: Every year, the city of San Fernando holds Ligligan Parul (or Giant Lantern Festival) featuring dazzling parols (lanterns) that symbolize the Star of Bethlehem. Each parol consists of thousands of spinning lights that illuminate the night sky.
  3. Austria: Austria has a legend that a devil-like creature called Krampus joins their St. Nicholas festivities on December 6. Children are asked to list their good and bad deeds: Good children are rewarded with sweets, apples, and nuts, and misbehaving children worry what Krampus might bring on Christmas morning.
  4. Poland: On Christmas Eve in Poland, many families share oplatek (an unleavened religious wafer), each person breaking off a piece as they wish each other Merry Christmas.
  5. Ireland: The Irish leave a tall red candle in a front window overnight, a welcoming symbol of warmth and shelter for the holiday season. In Ireland, traditional Christmas fare often includes homemade roast goose, vegetables, cranberries, and potatoes.