5 Holiday Traditions From Around the World

All around the world, people of different nations get festive with special traditions to signify the coming of Christmas.

Read: Bah Humbug! How The U.S. Gets Christmas Wrong And The Philippines Gets It Right

From light-up boats in Greece to giant goats in Scandinavia, each country and culture definitely shines bright in their own unique ways! Curious to see how the other side of the globe celebrates? Check it out here.

Christmas Boats, Greece

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Photo from Greek City Times

In Greece, Christmas boats (not trees!) take the cake. The archipelago country welcomes the holidays with the tradition of “Karavaki”, which means “small boat.” The tradition dates back early into the country’s history, when large decorated boats were erected to celebrate men’s safe return from sea voyages. Now, every year, huge lit-up boats can be seen glowing around the islands.

Krampus, Austria

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Photo from Festival Sherpa

Have you ever experienced a real-life nightmare before Christmas? Well, you’re sure to see it in Austria and Bavaria where Krampus, a goat-like, beastly creature roams. It’s said that the half-man, half-goat works together with St. Nick on the first week of December, with the latter rewarding good children with gifts and the former stealing naughty ones away in his sack. If you’re ever in the region, don’t be surprised if on December 5, you see a parade of men walking through the streets dressed as Krampus.

Thirteen Yule Lads, Iceland

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Photo from Arctic Portal

Like a combination of Santa Clause and the Seven Dwarves, the Thirteen Yule Lad celebration in Iceland involves 13 troll-like characters and many, many shoes. In the 13 days leading up to Christmas, children will leave out their shoes by their windows for these mischievous trolls to drop presents in. Good kids will get sweet candy while bad kids wake up to rotting potatoes. Each Lad also has a distinct name and personality, which makes them all the more interesting!

Yule Goat, Scandinavia

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Photo from Getty

Forget the reindeer and get with the goats! In Scandinavian countries like Norway, Sweden, and Finland, Christmas tradition dictates that good ol’ Santa rides on a goat instead of a sleigh pulled by reindeer. Naturally, goat imagery and ornaments have since become common in such countries. In Sweden, especially, the town of Gävle puts up a a 13-metre-tall straw goat every year in the town square to celebrate the holiday season.

Carp Dinner, Slovakia

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Photo from Meghan Collins Sullivan/NPR

In Slovakia, Christmas Eve dinner means carp — but in a tub. To clarify, carp scales apparently hold with it good luck and good fortune for the coming year. So before killing the fish, Slovakians let it swim in their bathtub a couple days prior to Christmas Eve. Until then, the carp is a new pet!

Art Daniella Sison

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