Holiday Traditions Around the World

welocalize December 13, 2021

As they say, it’s the most wonderful time of the year. Christmas and the holiday season is celebrated in many countries. All around the world, countries and cultures have different ways of celebrating. From unusual and scary customs to lavish or strange dishes, no holiday tradition is the same.

Click here to see what some of the Welocalize teams around the world eat over the holiday season in our special ‘Treats from Around the World’ holiday video.


The Quirky

Beach Barbecue in Australia

It’s summer during the holidays in Australia. And this means Australians like to grill food and have a beer, whether at the beach or other outdoor venues. Some favorites are grilled meats and “shrimp on the barbie.”

KFC Chicken in Japan

We don’t exactly associate KFC with Christmas. But in Japan, it has become an annual tradition to eat KFC chicken on December 25. This started from a hugely successful KFC marketing campaign in 1974. It has become so popular, people place orders months in advance.

Carved Radishes in Mexico

Every Christmas in Oaxaca, Mexico, since 1897, miniature exhibits made from carved oversized radishes are displayed. Dubbed Noche de Rábanos (Night of the Radishes), the festival shows scenes from the Nativity and Mexican folklore.

Roller Skating in Venezuela

In Caracas, Venezuela, residents roller-skate to attend Christmas mass. Neighborhoods close the streets to cars until the next morning. After mass, everyone enjoys tostadas (toasted tortilla) or hallacas (meat pies).


The Grand 

Giant Goat in Sweden

The Swedes build a massive straw goat that’s 42 feet high every festive season. The Gävle Goat has its roots in ancient pagan festivals. Christmas dinner is called Julbord, a buffet of meatballs, smoked sausages, pickled herring, cold cuts, pork ribs, and saffron buns.

Giant Lantern Festival in the Philippines

In the city of San Fernando, they celebrate Ligligan Parul (Giant Lantern Festival), a competition for the biggest parols (lanterns), with as many as 10,000 light bulbs. Filipinos also love traditional sweet rice cakes like bibingka and puto bumbong during Christmas.

Christmas Trees and Boats in Greece

The Greeks have been decorating Christmas trees and boats for centuries, celebrating their seafarers’ return from their voyages. Traditional Christmas fare includes Christopsomo (Christ’s bread), and Christmas honey cookies called melomakarona.


The Scary 

Evil Yule Cat in Iceland

No new clothes to wear before Christmas Eve? The giant monstrous Jólakötturinn or Jólaköttur (Yule Cat) from Icelandic folklore lurks during the holidays to eat children who didn’t get new clothes as a reward for good behavior.

Guest Ghosts in Portugal

A Christmas dinner just isn’t complete without Uncle Juan, even if he’s dead. Consoada is a traditional holiday dinner where families honor their dead relatives by leaving an empty chair at the table.

Half-Goat, Half-Demon in Austria

While Saint Nicholas goes around rewarding good children, the scary horned Krampus, a half-goat, half-demon, comes out at Christmastime to scare misbehaving kids. Austrians hold Krampus nightly parades with marchers in creepy costumes.


The Unusual

Rotten Potatoes in Iceland

Instead of hanging Christmas stockings, children in Iceland place their shoes by the window the night before Christmas. The myth is 13 Yule Lads come to visit and either put candy (if they’re good) or rotten potatoes (if they’re bad) inside the shoes.

Sheep’s Head in Norway

Steamed sheep’s head, anyone? Called Smalahove, this dish is traditionally served the Sunday before Christmas and eaten whole. Today, it’s mostly tourists who eat this. Many Norwegians go for more common fare, including dried cod soaked in lye and fermented trout.

Whale Skin in Greenland

Traditional Inuit food mattak, chunks of skin from the narwhal or white whale, is served along kiviak, a small arctic bird called auk stuffed inside a sealskin that’s fermented for months. Christmas dinner also includes whale meat and reindeer meat.


The Lavish 

12 Dishes in Poland

Poles serve 12 non-meat dishes during Christmas, representing the 12 apostles. These include red borscht with mushroom dumplings, cabbage rolls, fried or baked carp, mushroom soup, braised sauerkraut, kutia (wheat berry pudding), gingerbread, and Polish cheesecake.

7 Fishes in Italy

Families in Southern Italy celebrate the Feast of the Seven Fishes, the number being a common number in The Bible. Dinner includes seven seafood dishes, such as baccala (salt cod), capitone (eel), calamari (squid), frutti di mare (shellfish), and vongole (clams). More common throughout the country is panettone, a sweet bread loaded with candied fruit, raisins, and nuts.

3-Course Meal in Spain

The Spaniards love long dinners, and their noche buena (Christmas Eve) is no different. It starts with various tapas, followed by seafood soup like fish chowder, and then the main entrée (fish, suckling pig, or lamb roast). It ends with dessert, such as Turrón, a nougat made with almonds.

Buffet in Finland

The Finns like to celebrate Christmas dinner with Joulupöytä (Christmas table), much like the Swedish smörgåsbord or julbord. There’s ham, pickled herring, smoked salmon, stew, casseroles, tarts, gingerbread, and rice pudding.


The Warm and Sweet

Goose in Germany

Germans celebrate the holidays around the Weihnachtsgans, the Christmas goose, stuffed with apples, chestnuts, onions, and prunes, and then spiced with mugwort and marjoram. They also love Stollen, their version of the fruitcake packed with dried fruit, almond paste, or marzipan.

Turkey in the United States

Just like during Thanksgiving, Americans usually serve baked turkey with stuffing at Christmas dinner. It’s served with mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, and gravy.

Yule Log in France

The French serve La Bûche de Noël (Yule Log Cake), a dessert that looks like a wood log. It’s made from sponge cake and chocolate buttercream.

Pudding in the United Kingdom

The Brits call it figgy pudding, plum pudding, Christmas pudding, or pud. It’s a traditional dessert in England and Ireland. Similar to a fruit cake, it’s made with candied citrus peel, molasses, spices, and dried fruits. The pudding is set on fire with brandy before being served, often with custard 😊.

All the Welocalize family would like to send you holiday cheer and warm wishes for a wonderful holiday season and success in 2022.

Here’s our special ‘Treats from Around the World’ holiday video…..