Do you remember the Christmas stories your family told you when you were a child? The annual trip to that relative, who always gave you delicious candy? Or perhaps staying up all night waiting for Santa to come down the chimney and leave presents for you to open together with your loved ones the following morning? Happy childhood memories always take a special place in every person's memory and have the ability to evoke warm, involuntary smiles when recalled. It is important to note that traditions play a big part in creating these memories, especially during the holiday season. Regardless of what holiday you're celebrating, every family has a set of customs that they follow each year, and their honoring serves as a way to keep them close and happy together. Gathering everyone around the dinner table, for example, is a precondition for emotional and high-quality conversation. Decorating the house is a great way to give kids the freedom to express their creativity and expand their artistic thinking. Building a strong relationship between children and their parents is essential to ensure that the child receives an excellent upbringing, emotional intelligence, and of course, a ton of happy memories to smile about one day.
The word "tradition" comes from the Latin verb "tradere" which means to "hand over" or "hand down" the same way as customs are handed down from one generation to another. Even when you build your own family, you automatically incorporate your old customs into the new ones you create. People preserve their holiday traditions for so long because they serve as a connection with individuals they care about, thus making the festivities more meaningful. It is essential to choose your traditions carefully because they add significant value for every member of your family, especially your children, by allowing them to create unforgettable memories to remember and cherish forever.
The Holiday Blog has prepared for you a little guide to the most beautiful traditions to celebrate with your family this holiday season, inspired by the all-time favorite childhood memories. But before that, let's dive into some of the most interesting (and scary!) Christmas traditions from around the world.
Have You Been Nice?
Dec 6 is St. Nicholas' Day for Christians in Germany, Austria, and other European countries. According to the legends, Saint Nicholas was known to help those in need and bring gifts to the unfortunate children and their families. The bishop of Myra was born in 270 A.D in the city of Patara, modern-day Turkey, and it is believed that upon their passing, his parents left him a sizable fortune. Saint Nicholas did not utilize the inherited wealth for his benefit but instead used it to help alleviate the poor's suffering. Because of his noble virtues, Christians continue to consider him as a saint and continue to celebrate in his honor every year up to this day. In many countries, the figure of Saint Nicholas is as beloved and anticipated as that of Santa, and some even consider them to be the same person. On the eve of St. Nicholas' Day, Dec 5, children clean and neatly place their shoes in front of the door, hoping that the old man will pass by and leave small gifts or candy for them. And those that misbehaved got a piece of coal or a completely different visitor…
Or Have You Been Naughty?
In Germany and Austria, the holiday season officially begins on Dec 1. This is the day when the terrifying figure of Krampus is said to go out and begin his quest to find misbehaving children. Many years ago, his character was created as a counterpoint to St. Nicholas, who gave gifts and candy to youngsters as a reward for good behavior. The legend of the beastly man was passed down from generation to generation, and it was developed to serve the same purpose as the Elf on the shelf, only in a more sinister and terrifying way. In the run-up to Christmas, Krampus punishes misbehaving children by abducting them and taking them to the underworld. Another popular version of this "fun experience" is him stuffing the naughty kids in his bag and taking them to his cave in the woods.
In ancient folklore and legends, Krampus was depicted as a devilish figure. He was described as having goat-like horns and a beard, a snake-like long tongue, sharp teeth, and a tall, 10-foot frame. Because of his resemblance with the devil, Krampus was declared a pagan practice in the 1930s and banned by the Catholic Church. His figure was resurrected at the end of the 20th century when celebrations held in his honor became a traditional practice in early December.
Iceland's 13 Santas.
Children in Iceland have a completely different Christmas experience than other kids around the world. During the holiday season, they have the opportunity to receive gifts from not one but 13 different versions of Santa, better known as The Yule Lads. These lads are a group of jolly but mischievous men who visit children on the thirteen nights leading up to Christmas. During this period, kids around Iceland will be leaving a pair of shoes on their windows and going to bed in hopes of getting a gift from the Yule Lads. Upon waking up, youngsters on the nice list will be receiving candies, while misbehaving children will be finding rotting potatoes stuck in their boots. It is not uncommon for the Yule Lads to play pranks in the homes they have visited. Each of them has his own distinct personality traits, which are reflected in the art of the mischiefs they perpetrate. For example, the Door Slammer will go around slamming doors to keep everyone awake, whereas the Skyr Gobbler will eat all of the yogurt he finds in your fridge. Icelandic mythology also has a Krampus of its own in the face of Grýla- a witch that has been a part of local legends since as early as the 13 century. Every Christmas, she leaves her home in the mountains and lurks in the cities in hopes of finding mischievous children to…. well, make soup out of them. Another charming creature of Icelandic legends is the Yule Cat, and of course, it is not a little purring ball of fur. This feline is, in fact, a gigantic and vicious creature that goes around the country and eats everyone that isn't wearing the new clothes they have received over the holidays. Charming.
Christmas Lights Traditions Around The World
Giant Lantern Festival, Philippines
During the Christmas season in the Philippines, the city of San Fernando holds the Giant Lantern Festival, locally known as the Ligligan Parul Festival. During its celebration, a competition is held where the best designers present different handmade giant lanterns in various colors and shapes. The festival attracts many tourists annually and has earned the city of San Fernando the title of the country's Christmas capital. Years ago, the lanterns were made using bamboo and different simple materials, but eventually, their designs grew in size and complexity as time passed, earning the tradition worldwide recognition.
The Night Of the Little Candles, Colombia
"Little Candles' Night" is a traditional Christmas holiday in Colombia. It is held each year on the evening of Dec 7. During its celebration, people turn off the lights of their homes as a tribute to Mary's maternity and the Immaculate Conception and the beginning of the holiday season. The balconies, porches, and windows of every home are decorated with paper lanterns and candles. Similar decorations can be found on the sidewalks, streets, parks, and public squares around the cities. This beautiful festival is of great significance in Colombia. The next day is the onset of one of the biggest official holidays of the country- the feast of the immaculate conception.
What a journey, right? From cats and lads to Santa and his evil brother Krampus there for sure are tons of colorful and beautiful traditions celebrated around the world during Christmas. To help you find your favorite ones, The Holiday Blog presents you with a list of favorite childhood memories to celebrate this holiday season. Check them out!
Top 10 Favorite Childhood Holiday Memories
Trimming the Tree
Do you remember putting up your first Christmas tree? The tree is one of the key symbols of the holiday season. Finding the perfect one, trimming it, and decorating it are all parts of the celebration highlights you tend to remember the following years.
There is no better way to connect with family than to share delicious meals. Whether you packed your bags to visit your grandparents during the holiday season or participated in organizing a Christmas party your parents held at your home, the key message is one and the same: holiday time=family time.
Decorating the House
Prove that teamwork makes the dream work! From the moment you grab the dusty decoration boxes to the moment you review the final result by switching on all the gleaming lights, this is probably the memory that made you realize that hard work pays off beautifully.
Taking Your Picture With Santa
Is there a better way to remember the holidays than having your picture taken with Santa? Grab your photo album and check all the ones you have since you were a child, and go on a trip down memory lane.
Fun Idea: Find the absolute best one and recreate it this year! Also, make sure to prepare your wishlist- one is never too old for a good, quality time with Santa!
Watching Christmas Movies
Every family has their own favorite Christmas movies to rewatch every year during the holiday season. Why stop now? Make sure you watch every single one of them again! Expand your collection by checking some interesting new titles. The more, the merrier!
Playing with Friends
The best childhood memories were born during the holiday breaks with friends! Whether you went sledding together with them or simply gathered and played different games, the chances are that some of the happiest memories of your childhood were created in these precise moments.
Remember the warm, delicious smell of your favorite cookies taken fresh out of the oven? This is the signature smell of the holidays. Nothing stops you from recreating this tradition this year! Ask your family for the recipe, grab the ingredients needed and create some tasty holiday magic at home!
Whether you love or hate shopping nowadays, you probably have some exciting Christmas shopping memories from your childhood to share. New ornaments- check. Groceries- check. The toy that smiled at you through the shop`s window? Check, check, check!
Waiting for Santa
You will probably lie if you say that you never, ever stayed up late waiting for Santa when you were a child. All the excitement is fighting the heaviness of your eyelids- precious!
Opening Gifts in the Morning
Whether you managed to stay awake or slept like a baby through the whole night, the desire of opening your gifts probably had you running towards the Christmas tree with the speed of Blitzen and Dasher combined! After all, the presents you received were the only way to measure if behaving through the month of December was absolutely worth it, right?
As beautiful as childhood is, growing up also has its benefits. While paying for your own presents and having to cook your own meals might not exactly fit the advantages section, being able to appreciate the gift of family fully and the importance of traditions totally make up for it, don`t you think?
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The Holiday Blog wishes you and your family a very happy and warm celebration of the holiday season!