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Christmas traditions from around the world

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.

Christmas Star


Little candles day (Dia de las Velitas). To honour the Virgin Mary and the immaculate conception, candles or paper lanterns are placed in the windows, balconies and front yards. This tradition has grown and now whole towns are lit up at this time of year with elaborate displays.


Ever fancied spending your Christmas on Rollerblades?? Well this is how they do it in Caracas, Venezuela! Residents choose to rollerblade to their traditional visit to church on in the early morning, rather than take the car. This unique tradition is 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, 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, in Japan they have something completely different. Their tradition is eating fried chicken, KFC in particular. It has become such a big thing, 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 go to bed in the anticipation of gifts being left for them in the morning. Though it’s not Santa Claus who brings them, it’s La Befana.

La Befana, Italy

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!

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