From hanging shoes to setting trash on fire, there are many downright fascinating holiday traditions. Our personal encounter with ‘Julebukking’ inspired us to further investigate holiday traditions and folklore across the globe and we stumbled upon 6 that we just couldn’t help but share.
Julebukking (Norway): Children dress up in costumes and masks, go door-to-door singing Yuletide Carols and are awarded with treats. Although this tradition may sound strange, many of our Christmas traditions extended from the Julebukk, including giving gifts, getting treats, and distinguishing the naughty from the nice.
Krampus (Austria): In Austrian folklore, Santa makes the rounds alongside a devilish and hairy sidekick named Krampus. Santa gives nice children gifts, while Krampus unleashes punishment on the naughty children—and the really naughty supposedly get taken away by Krampus in a sack and eaten for dinner…Yikes!
KFC Dinner (Japan): Forget a homemade Turkey dinner, the Christmas dinner du jour in much of Japan involves Kentucky Fried Chicken. In fact, it’s become so popular that customers are advised to place their Christmas dinner order two months in advance! Now that’s one tradition we simply can’t get behind.
The First-Footing (Scotland): Once the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Eve all eyes await for the year’s first visitor. According to this folklore the first person to enter the home should bring an array of gifts, but more importantly, they are a predictor of the upcoming year’s fortune (the luckiest first visitor is a dark-haired man and unluckiest a blonde woman).
La Quema del Diablo (Guatemala): Guatemalans kick off the holiday season by collecting junk from their homes, building a massive,communal heap of trash on the street, crowning it with a devil symbol and setting it afire. The ritual symbolizes the purging of negative energy and bad spirits, allowing a clean start for the upcoming holiday festivities.
Yule Lad (Iceland): For 13 nights in December, children leave their shoes in the windowsill and each night while they sleep, 13 mystical Yule Lads descend the mountains to visit and leave gifts for all of the ‘nice’ children, and a raw potato for the ‘naughty.’ Although today these Yule Lads are likened to Santa, they were originally more sinister and used to frighten children into behaving.
The Cemetery (Finland): In Finland it’s customary to visit the graveyard site of deceased relatives on Christmas Eve, lay a lantern and light a candle. The vision is beautiful with the candles lit over the snow emitting a glow over the woods, and even those without deceased loved ones often partake in this touching tradition.
Now that you are wise to some fascinating traditions around the world why not make having a healthy holiday a new tradition for you and your family. Look for healthier alternatives for your traditional holiday meals, ensure you don’t skimp on sleep, and make fun active pursuits such as skiing or skating a new holiday tradition.