Home Lifestyle Here are 10 holiday traditions you’ve probably never heard of before

Here are 10 holiday traditions you’ve probably never heard of before

Here are 10 holiday traditions you’ve probably never heard of before

With the holiday season almost over, it may be time to start looking to new traditions for next year’s Christmas and New Year celebrations. If you’re looking for a little extra luck in 2024, here are some traditions that people, including my own family, have participated in.

My grandmother grew up with Polish immigrant parents. Besides making and eating pierogies for the holidays, we also have some wacky traditions that my friends didn’t know existed. On Christmas Eve we start with a piece of Oplatek, what Catholic areas of Poland call a Christmas wafer. In my family, the oldest person gets the largest piece and it is devoured with honey drizzled over it – to signify a “sweet” new year. Before eating, the person is supposed to recite a wish for the new year. Then family and friends eat their own piece based on age.

To solidify our luck for the coming year, my grandmother also prepared pickled herring. Herring is abundant in Poland and parts of Scandinavia, and because of its silver color, many people in these areas eat pickled herring at the stroke of midnight to bring about a year of prosperity and bounty. Some people even eat herring marinated in cream sauce, while others serve it with onions. Unfortunately for me, marinated herring reminds me of anchovies and sardines, which are not known for being the most appetizing. Every year, when my grandmother offers the dish to the whole family, I am usually the only one who eats only a spoonful.

If you’d rather try your luck with less shady methods, try this Philippine New Year’s Eve tradition. Open all the doors and windows in your house at midnight to eliminate bad vibes and allow good luck to enter. Sure, letting some cold air into your house in the middle of winter might not sound like much fun, but it will only take a minute for the magic to happen.

If you want to go the food route, there is a New Year’s Eve tradition that comes from Spain. At midnight sharp, sit under a table and eat 12 grapes. Each grape is believed to represent a month of the year to bring prosperity and good luck. Some people even make 12 wishes with each grape.

There are also plenty of traditions to try for Christmas next year, starting with one of my favorites: the Christmas pickle. When I was in my early teens, I received a Christmas ornament shaped like a pickle. At first I thought it was a fun gift to hang a pickle on my tree, until I looked at the packaging and saw the tradition that comes with it.

A Christmas pickle is a German-American tradition in which a pickle (usually a real one) is hidden in your tree. The first person to find the pickle is allowed to open the first present on Christmas morning. Some other versions of the tradition mention that whoever finds pickles will receive good luck the following year. At my place, the winner has the choice between cash or opening the first gift. It may not be the most complicated holiday tradition, but since most people aren’t aware of this practice, it’s still possible to educate others about this bizarre tradition.

Another tradition my family has tried over the years comes primarily from Europe. Even the British royal family participates in this trend, which dates back to Queen Victoria and Prince Albert: they opened all our presents on Christmas Eve. However, there is a reason we only participated in this tradition once and never again.

With younger children running around, opening presents on Christmas Eve isn’t as disruptive because they will still be busy with their new toys on Christmas Day. But as kids get older – and enter the “asking for socks as a gift” era – opening presents on Christmas Eve makes the whole Christmas Day act quite boring and less special.

While my family has participated in some unique trends over the years, there are other holiday traditions around the world that are worth trying and might be an opportunity to step away from normal traditions.

In Japan, people eat Kentucky Fried Chicken for Christmas dinner instead of ham or turkey, like those in the United States. The tradition has become so popular that the lines at the fast food chicken joint are either extremely long or people pre-order their buckets months in advance. KFC chains are getting a holiday-themed makeover in the run-up to Christmas, decked out in red and green. Even its mascot, Colonel Sanders, dresses up as Santa Claus, with life-size models seen in Japanese cities. The KFC Christmas Bucket, commonly known as a barrel, comes with a limited edition Christmas themed collectible plate. Unsurprisingly, the week before Christmas Eve is the most profitable time of the year for the franchise, with a haul of £38,000,000 (6.1 billion Japanese yen) in 2018 and record turnover of £44,000,000 (7.1 billion yen) in 2019.

For Poles, this trend can be considered less of a tradition and more of a legend or urban myth. At Christmas Eve dinner, all the animals would have the opportunity to talk during the night. According to legend, it was thanks to the animals who helped welcome the baby Jesus at his birth. If you’ve ever wondered what your pets would say if they could talk, now’s your chance to listen.

In Germany, it is traditional for children to shine their shoes and leave them in the street or near the fireplace on the evening of December 5, the day before St. Nicholas Day. When they wake up, their shoes are supposed to be filled with chocolates and treats from Nikolaus (Saint Nicholas) as a reward for their good behavior. Tangerines and small gifts are also commonly included in shoes, much like the concept of a Christmas stocking. Some reports even claim that naughty children will find a rotten potato in their shoes rather than treats.

Although some families spend Christmas Eve snuggled up on the couch in matching pajamas, while watching a Christmas movie and drinking hot chocolate, Venezuelans tend to celebrate Christmas Eve by rollerblading. It is common for residents of the country’s capital, Caracas, to be seen rollerblading to mass on Christmas Eve. Skating is such a popular tradition that the streets are closed to cars, allowing skaters to travel safely and enjoy this fun Christmas activity.

No matter how you celebrate the holidays, these unique traditions are fun activities for the whole family and can make this wonderful time of year even more special.


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