With Christmas just around the corner, we thought we would share some of the festive Christmas traditions from a few of the countries we visit on our tours and some that we have yet to add.
Colombia – Little candles day (Dia de las Velitas). This is where candles or paper lanterns are placed in the windows, balconies and front yards in honour of the Virgin Mary and the immaculate conception. This tradition has grown and now whole towns are lit up at this time of year with elaborate displays.
Venezuela – Ever fancied spending your Christmas on Rollerblades?? Well this is how they do it in Caracas, Venezuela! Christmas Eve has the traditional visit to church early in the morning, but the residents choose to rollerblade rather than take the car. This Unique tradition has become so popular that even roads are closed so that whole families can get there in safety.
Did you know the Poinsettia, the most popular Christmas flower, originated in Latin America? It was discovered by Dr Joel Robert Poinsett, when he was serving as a US Minister in Mexico and he shipped samples of the beautiful flower back to the US in 1936. In Mexico it is known by the locals as ‘Flor de Noche Buena’
Have you ever thought about carving radishes for Christmas? Well in Oaxaca, Mexico, radish figurines line the Central Plaza on December the 23rd and 24th. Nativity scenes and great historical events to name a couple are sculpted by Mexican artists using only radishes. The whole event is known as El festival de Los Rabanos (The festival of Radishes).
Whilst we all have our own traditions of what we eat on Christmas day, whether it be Turkey or sausages on the BBQ, in Japan they have something completely different. They have a tradition of fried chicken and KFC in particular. It has become such a big thing, that you now have to book a table in your local takeaway or pre order to guarantee yourselves and family a spot. Keeping with something traditional, your meal does come accompanied with a yummy Christmas cake for desert!
Over in Europe, they have slightly different traditions, but some are just as weird and wonderful.
In Italy, children still go to bed in the anticipation of gifts being left for them in the morning, but it is not Santa Claus who brings them, it is La Befana.
La Befana is an old witch in Italian folklore, who delivers presents and lollies to children on Epiphany eve (January 5th) and is known as Santa’s competitor. She rides a broomstick and is usually covered in soot as she travels down lots of chimneys. Similar to Santa, children leave out treats for her such as wine and food!
Fancy an extra present this year? In Spain and Germany, an old tradition is to hide a pickle ornament in the Christmas tree and the first person to find this will receive an extra present!
We hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and very happy New Year from all of us at Southern Exposure Tours!