Unique Holiday Traditions Around the World You Need to Experience

There are some very unusual holiday traditions out there – from Sweden’s Yule Goat appearing with Saint Nick to devilish creatures who punish children who misbehave in Alpine countries – all the way to devil-like figures punishing children when they misbehave, there are plenty of exciting celebrations around this time of year. Read on to gain more insight into these special festivities.

On Christmas Eve in South Wales, it has long been tradition to carry around a Mari Lwyd adorned with ribbons as part of wassailing festivities.

1. Iceland’s Yule Lads

Iceland’s Yule Lads (or Jolasveinar), similar to Santa Claus, visit children’s homes over 13 nights leading up to Christmas Eve. Children leave their shoes out the window for them and, if they have behaved themselves well, may receive presents suited to their personalities whereas bad kids may receive rotten potatoes instead.

The 13 Yule Lads, along with their fearsome mother Gryla and pet cat Leppaludi, pose a grave danger to Icelandic children when misbehaving. Meet this group: Askasleikir (Bowl-Licker) on December 12 will lick everyone’s bowls; Stekkjastaur sneaks into barns to steal milk; Giljagaur consumes cow’s milk directly off sheep on December 14; while Stufur swipes pots and pans with unwashed cutlery on December 15!

2. Czech Republic’s St. Nicholas

Christmas Eve in the Czech Republic marks a special event for Saint Nicholas (Mikulas). While Santa Claus drops gifts into children’s stockings, Mikulas visits each house along with his helpers (Angel and Devil; Cert and Andel). Their mission? to judge children for their behavior throughout the year.

If the children have been bad, they receive coal and potatoes; but if they recite a poem or sing a song that proves they are good, they get candy and fruits as rewards.

This tradition resembles Dutch and Belgian Sinterklaas celebrations with an added sinister aspect: Krampus is represented as the devil by an intimidating half-goat demon figure with fur and horns who awaits misbehaving children to drag back to hell.

3. Finland’s Christmas Eve Graveyard Visits

On Christmas Eve in Finland, families traditionally visit gravesites of loved ones to mark them with candles and decorate them for Christmas Day. According to one Kuopio park master, this practice creates an illuminated sea.

The Swedish tradition of a Yule Goat (Joulu means Christmas and Pukki means goat [or buck]) can be traced back to pagan celebrations of Thor. Today, Joulupukki still delivers gifts; but if you have been bad this year he might also leave you coal as punishment!

In the Netherlands, children place their shoes by the fireplace for Sinterklaas to fill on December 5, but must take care not to consume all their fruitcake beforehand – or else Santa may never come! Crumbs left behind in shoes are seen as good luck wishes for a successful year ahead.

4. Venezuela’s Roller Skating to Mass

When most of us think of visiting church for Christmas, they envision traveling by car or bus – but Venezuela takes it one step further by donning their roller skates and skating their way to church!

Las Patinatas (skating), began as an everyday activity in the 1950s. Now so popular that many streets close until 8am so residents can safely practice las patinatas (or skating).

Alarcon emphasizes that las patinatas isn’t simply an entertaining tradition – it has deeper significance for families to come together, celebrate community and culture and reflect Venezuelan spirit through playful living! So there’s plenty to celebrate about las patinatas!

5. Spain’s Tio de Nadal

Caga Tio, also known as the Christmas Log, is quite an impressive sight to behold. Families living in Catalonia region of Spain bring in small tree trunks for weeks leading up to Christmas and place them in some dark corner with blanket. Every day after feeding it leftover food remnants they beat it with barretina (traditional Catalonian red cap) to the rhythm of song that encourages Tio de Nadal (Christmas Log) to give out presents.

These logs dispense gifts that resemble “poop”, such as candy, sweets and turron nougat – or sometimes even toys! This tradition evolved from European custom of cutting a Yule log for fireside on Christmas Eve; which was said to possess magical powers of its own.

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