Travel Club: 5 ‘unusual’ Christmas traditions around the world

There are many ways of experiencing Christmas… ready to be surprised?

(Expression) Used when you wouldn’t change anything about a situation.

To compensate for something.

To become popular.

To stop someone from doing something.

Looking bright or big, normally catching people’s attention.

The tricky part of a situation.

To become an obstacle to something/one.

Whenever we think about Christmas, there are some basic concepts that come to our minds: buying presents, meeting our family for dinner, having traditional dishes or sweets… Christmas is a time of traditions and, for those of us who have lived in Spain our whole lives, we probably wouldn’t have it any other way!

Christmas, however, is a time of year that every culture experiences in drastically different ways – and this could give us great ideas for future trips! Read on to learn more about peculiar, yet interesting Christmas traditions from other countries. Some of them might make you reconsider whose Christmas is the coolest!

Iceland: ‘Book floods’

If you’re a self-declared bookworm, Iceland might be your ideal destination! One of their main traditions is called Jolabokaflod, which roughly translates as ‘book flood.’ Icelanders give each other books on Christmas Eve and spend the night reading their new possession in the comfort of a blanket, drinking hot cocoa in front of a fire! An idyllic plan for a cold day, right? Jolabokaflod originated during World War II as a way to make up for the shortage of supplies and eventually led the country to become a land of bookaholics.

Japan: Fast food dinners

Christmas has never been much of a big deal in Japan; in fact, Christmas Eve tends to be thought of as a romantic day when couples spend time together and exchange gifts, similar to Valentine’s Day. A new tradition, however, has emerged over the past few decades: heading into the nearest Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant to order a bucket of fried chicken! Back in the 1970s, KFC came up with a campaign promoting their food as an ideal Christmas dinner and, somehow, the idea caught on. A perfect plan if you hate cooking in preparation for Christmas Day!

Italy and Norway: Lands of witches

When it comes to Christmas-y folklore figures, we tend to think of Santa Claus or the Three Wise Men. What you might not know is that, in some other countries, Christmas is all about witches! In Italy, children eagerly expect the arrival of La Befana, a kind-spirited witch who visits their houses on January 5th and leaves either presents or coal. The story changes a little in Norway, though: instead of anticipating the arrival of a kind witch, people literally hide their brooms in a safe place to prevent witches from stealing them for a midnight ride! Funny how the tale changes!

Jamaica: Colourful parades

Looking for a colourful way of spending the holiday season? You may want to consider getting tickets to Jamaica, where Junkanoo parades are full of flashy costumes and intense dancing! Celebrated on Boxing Day (December 26th), the festival pays homage to African dances and fills the streets with dynamism – kind of like reliving Carnival! The weather also tends to be much nicer around Christmas… and flights are generally cheaper! Do you fancy travelling long distances?

Venezuela: Rollerblading frenzy

If you’ve ever dreamed of a more dynamic kind of Christmas, read on! Every Christmas Eve, the citizens of Caracas leave their homes and head towards the church… here’s the catch, though: they have to do so on roller skates! What might seem like an odd tradition is in fact a huge event in the city: they even close the streets so cars cannot get in the way of the rollerbladers. Christmas is a great time to sit by the table and eat, but there’s always time to get some exercise done!

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