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Holiday Traditions Around the World

A Glance at the Season Around the World!

Holiday traditions are delivered this season in all shapes and sizes. Some with red and green razzle-dazzle, others with the scent of a Christmas long ago. Either way you slice it, each family has something special about the way they celebrate. Little Passports wants to take you on a global adventure to glance at Christmas around the world. From attending 4am mass to BBQ on the beach for Christmas Day, this is sure to get you in the international holiday spirit.

Simbang Gabi: Philippines

So, you think Christmas starts earlier each year in America? Check out Christmas in the Philippines where the “Ber” months initiate the kick off. That’s right, SeptemBER is the first of four months to get decked out in lights and covered in parols (star lanterns).    

“I’d like to believe our country celebrates the longest Christmas season…ever. Everyone is excited when the ‘Ber Months’ hit us.” – Carmine Dinglasan, Manila

As the “Ber” months wind down and the anticipated day nears, Simbang Gabi begins. Starting on December 16th and continuing for 9 days until Christmas Eve, churches across the archipelago open their doors at the break of dawn and invite in the masses to worship. Young children, teenagers, adults, and elders alike gather at 4am to partake in Simbang Gabi. Locals say that the fun part of Simbang Gabi is that if you complete 9 straight masses without missing any, you get to make a wish! After mass the streets are filled with food stalls selling yummy treats like puto bumbong (sticky rice) and bibingka (rice cake). Pictured to the right, a girl from Manila offers her guest bibingka while a parol glows in the background.

Summer Time Christmas: Australia                           

The sun Down Under sure isn’t shy around Christmas time in Australia. While much of the world is still searching for Frosty’s carrot nose lost in the snow, this country in the Southern Hemisphere is in prime time summer. Most Aussies happily trade a fire for a fan, roast bird for a seafood feast, and reindeers for kangaroos. It’s common for fish markets to have a line out the door on Christmas Eve and for families to celebrate Christmas outdoors. Camping, beach side BBQ’s, and lounging riverside are typical ways to spend Christmas in Australia.

“I love Christmas when it’s hot. You lot are truly missing out”

– Kellie Newstead, South Australia

Though Santa may swap his thick red coat for bordies and a hot roast gets kicked to the side to make way for fresh fish, Christmas in Australia has common roots to the United Kingdom. This means Christmas trees fill town squares and carols fill the warm night air.

Carp for Christmas: The Czech Republic and Poland

Many Americans perceive carp to be a dirty, bottom-feeder fish that gets in the way of the real catch. However, in Central Europe carp is a delectable dish served up for Christmas Eve dinner. Carp is a fresh water fish that is often bought live days before the Christmas feast and is kept alive in the bath tub! The scales of the fish are then used in many superstitious ways to bring good fortune for the following year. Carp scales are hidden underneath plates to bring money and people put a scale or two in their wallets to carry all year.

“It doesn’t mean we love fish so much but this is our traditional Christmas dish. Perhaps once upon a time we needed to find a way to get rid of all the carp in our ponds.”

– Ondra Burda, Prague

However your family rejoices, whether you decorate a palm, pine, or tree of plastic, Christmas is a special time to gather with family and partake in your favorite traditions. This year, Little Passports hopes to find a spot  in your heart (and under your Christmas tree). Share these international Christmas traditions with your friends and family. Do you have a special way to enjoy Christmas or know of a fun way other countries celebrate? Tell us about it on Facebook!

No matter what country we are from or where we spend Christmas, our Dutch friend sums it up nicely:

“We celebrate by visiting friends and family and being in their company, celebrating their friendship, and the fact that we are together. It is a moment of standing still in the world that goes by around us.” – Toine Sterk, The Netherlands