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The Holidays around the world

The Holidays around the world

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse. Well, a mouse might not be stirring, but behind the scenes, there’s been a flurry of activity getting ready for the big day with family and observing popular customs.

For instance, many will be busy getting a tree and decorating it with lights and tinsel; maybe a few lights will adorn the house. Then there’s the baking and cookie exchanges, from shortbread to gingerbread houses dripping in royal icing. Stockings are hung, and letters to Santa Claus are feverishly written. Oh, and we can’t forget the presents. And after feasting on the traditional turkey and all the trimmings, it’s time to settle in and watch a few Christmas favourites like Elf, A Christmas Story, or A Charlie Brown Christmas.

But what if we suggested you switch out the turkey for Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC), or you decorate your tree with a spider for good luck, and instead of hanging a stocking for Santa to fill with gifts, you leave a pair of shoes under your bed?

Sound weird? Well, the festive season is celebrated in many different ways around the world. Here are just a few.

In Japan, a clever marketing idea can be traced back to 1974, with the opening of KFC, which started a tradition that thrives to this day. “Kentucky for Christmas” (Kurisumasu ni wa Kentakkii) is something that some 3.6 million Japanese families celebrate. What better way to get together with family than over a holiday bucket of KFC. Even Colonel Saunders gets into the spirit by appearing in a Santa outfit.



Hanging an artificial spider and web on your tree is a tradition in Ukraine that dates back centuries and is thought to bring good fortune to the family. In Germany, the final ornament to be placed on the tree looks like a pickle and the first child to find it on Christmas morning gets a special gift.

Witches and evil spirits are believed to arrive in Norway on Christmas Eve. So, brooms are always put away before bed. While in Australia, starting Dec. 1st, Santa’s elves magically appear in homes. Think of it as the elf on a shelf. These elves act as Santa’s scouts, checking to see whose been naughty and nice, and report back to Santa every night at the North Pole. The next day, the elf is back in the house but never in the same hiding place. The hijinks of the elves’ game of hide-and-seek makes it fun for the kids, as they can’t wait to find him the next day. It’s no surprise, with the help of Santa’s scout elves, the kids are on their best behaviour – at least until Santa arrives.

And speaking about elf magic, people living in Mobile, Alabama, decided to celebrate the season by staging an Elfapalooza event. They attempted to break the Guinness World Record for the largest gathering of Santa elves. To qualify, strict elf attire had to be followed, which included pointy ears, a pointy hat, and a combination of green and red clothing. Although unsuccessful (that honour still belongs to a company in Bangkok, Thailand, that gathered 1,762 people dressed as elves), Elfapalooza was a huge hit and a fun and memorable way for a community to celebrate the spirit of the season. Who knows, maybe there are a few wannabe elves in your family, and you could start your own Elfapalooza.

So, however, you decide to celebrate the holidays, remember the best part is being with family and friends.

P.S. If you want to send your list to Santa and get a reply by Christmas, send your letters to Santa Claus, North Pole, Canada, HOH OHO by Friday, Dec. 8th.