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Christmas traditions vary across the world. Some places are light-hearted and gift-giving while others are meant to strike fear. Nonetheless, it’s a holiday taken seriously across the world. When I think of Christmas I think of family traditions. Giving new pyjamas on Christmas eve, the whole family gathering for dinner, and watching the kids light up when they open presents on Christmas morning.

After spending last Christmas in Australia I realized that Christmas isn’t the same everywhere and my cherished traditions aren’t exactly those of other families and cultures. So what are other Christmas traditions around the world?

Giant Lanterns – Philippines
You can see giant circle lanterns in the Philippines displayed in celebration of Christmas. Although some cities celebrate on a much larger scale this tradition seems to be countrywide. Christmas carols and decorations begin as early as September first and last through the holiday season.

Stay in San Fernando at RedDoorz

Krampus – Austria
Now, this tradition is on the darker side of the holiday scale. Krampus and his evil-elves are said to lurk around the Austrian Alps over advent and terrorize the lazy, drunk and unruly. Krampus is so scary people have been fighting for years to ban the festivities.

Stay in Henndorf at Apartmenthaus Casper-Moser. ​

Yule Lads – Iceland
Mischief is in the air leading up to Christmas in Iceland. Children leave their shoes on windowsills hoping to wakeup to candy. If they were naughty, however, there will be rotting potatoes left behind. This lasts for 13 nights, one night per yule lad.

Stay at Bus Hostel in Reykjavik.

Cavalcade of Lights – Toronto
This is the official start of the holiday season. A massive fireworks display, a 60-foot tree, and circus acts are among the celebrations. Christmas in Canada is magical anyways with it almost always being a white Christmas featuring many light displays from coast to coast, but events like this warm your heart on those cold nights.

Staying in Toronto can be expensive, check out Airbnb (click here for a discount on your first booking).

Beach BBQ – Australia
Australia is a little different when it comes to Christmas. It’s hot, like really hot to start with. Bikinis, board shorts and barbecues are very common. Santa also trades in his reindeer for six big kangaroos. The Christmas carols are even different but don’t worry, Mariah Carrey and Michael Bubble never fail to ring through.

Stay in Bondi Beach at YHA Bondi Beachhouse

Go Vegan in Egypt
From Nov 5 to January 6th many Egyptians do a vegan ‘fast’. They spend the entirety of Christmas eve in church and then go home and feast. 43 days of vegan food is enough to sell me on spending Christmas in Egypt. You also get sweet treats as gifts, which makes my sweet tooth happy.

Stay in Cairo at Meramees Hostel

Give apples – China
In China Christmas isn’t really a big holiday, they do however celebrate by giving apples to each other. This isn’t meant to be an easy task either, you are to ask for money from 24 friends all with different last names in order to collect the money for the apple. Still, we love the effort and a good apple.

Stay in Shanghai at Shanghai Dream Station Boutique Youth Hostel

Christmas is a time to be together with your family no matter what traditions you have. Wishing you a very happy holiday season!

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