Holiday traditions around the world

Hammock on a tropical beach resort in christmas holidays with the sea water in the background

I have amazing memories of holiday traditions growing up in Florida.

Everyone came over to our house, bringing gifts that would pile up under the tree. My uncles sat in a circle, challenging each other to this sing-song joke battle – and at the end each punchline – everyone shouts “bomba!!” My uncle Jesus played the bongos, we drank Coquito – a spiked coconut milk drink that takes all day to prepare. We tucked into a  Puerto-Rican/Colombian latin feast and stayed up until midnight to open our presents… one by one. It was a cultural mish-mosh, our own freestyle Christmas tradition – and I love that.

We did pretty much the same thing for New Year – except to bring the new year in, at the countdown, we would try to eat one grape every second. I have no idea where that tradition came from, but it’s what we did!

What are your holiday traditions? Are you building new and different ones now as an adult, maybe with your own family? I thought it would be fun to look at what other people do for the holidays and New Year’s around the world.

Holiday Traditions Around the World

Latin America

Noche Buena, for Latin American cultures, is often the biggest feast for the Christmas season and is the Spanish tradition annually. In Spain, Latin America, and the Philippines, the evening consists of a traditional family dinner. Roasted pig, or lechón is often the center of Noche Buena for feasts around the world. It is believed that the tradition dates back to the 15th century when Caribbean colonists hunted down pigs and roasted them whole as the family gathered for Christmas Eve


The entire city laces up their roller-skates and skate down the streets to morning mass for Christmas Day. Often the city close down streets to make room for the families of holiday skaters.

New Zealand and Australia

It’s summer during Christmas time, so Christmas involves barbeques and going to the beach! Ham is prepared on the barbeque, with roasts to complement the ham. Grandmothers in New Zealand sew Christmas cross stitches for each grandchild until they turn 21 so that they will have Christmas decorations when they start their own families.


Everyone wears white attire to welcome the New Year, in order to attract peace and happiness.  But everyone can also add their own twist by wearing accent colors beneath the white clothing to represent New Year’s resolutions– such as orange for professional success, blue for harmony, yellow for prosperity, red or pink for romance, purple for inspiration, and green for health.

Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands

Smashing plates or other forms of crockery on your neighbour’s doorstep on New Year’s eve is a signal of good luck for the coming year and a sign of popularity – the more broken dishes you have on your doorstep, the more popular you are. A Danish and Norwegian dessert is also eaten at Christmas –  Kransekake — a cake made from almonds, sugar, and egg whites enjoyed on special occasions like Christmas and weddings — has a sweet structure: it gets its cone shape from many concentric rings stacked and held together with icing.


Christmas dinner is extremely elaborate – it starts with a fish course of usually smoked salmon and herring served cold with dill-mustard alongside some cheeses. There’s also smoked ham, red cabbage, boiled ptatoes and meatballs with fresh lingonberry jam and gravy. Hot Glogg (mulled wine) is served in espresso sized cups with sliced almonds and raisins, and dessert is pepparkakor, star shaped ginger biscuits. There’s also a festival of lights, the Lucia festival, which is celebrated with church concerts and processions and involves thousands of girls holding candles to represent St Lucia.

Whatever you may be doing this holiday and New Year’s, however big or small – I wish you all the joy and happiness in the world!

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