Everyone has their own traditions for celebrating the Christmas holiday, but here in the United States most of those traditions are similar among Americans. Here at the Bunker Bar & Grill @ VFW Post 5923, we thought it might be interesting to take a look at how people in other countries observe the holiday. Some are very close to our own traditions, and others are very different. Here are a few that we discovered.
Christmas trees are an important part of the holiday in Germany. Traditionally, the tree was not brought into the house until Christmas Eve, and if there were young children in the home, their mother and father would secretly decorate it overnight. Many German families of today still do not put up their tree until the morning of December 24.
This particular holiday isn’t widely celebrated in Japan. Christmas here is more of a time to share happiness and joy rather than a religious holiday. For some reason, it has become a tradition for residents to feast on Kentucky Fried Chicken on December 25.
Gifts are given at Christmas time, but they are not opened until January 1 on St. Basil’s Day! A traditional Christmas decoration in Greece is a shallow wooden bowl with a piece of wire suspended across the rim. A wooden cross wrapped in a sprig of basil is hung from the wire. Once daily someone in the family dips the cross in holy water and uses it to sprinkle water in each room of the house to keep the “kallikantzaroi” (bad spirits) away that try to come down the chimney during the 12 days of Christmas.
This country has one of the longest holiday seasons for Christmas. Carols can be heard as early as September 1! They host the Giant Lantern Festival yearly on the Saturday before Christmas, bringing onlookers from all over the world. It began with simple lanterns about a half-meter in diameter which were lit by candles. Today, lanterns can be as big as 6 meters in diameter and are lit by electric bulbs that shine in kaleidoscope patterns.
The holiday season begins here with Little Candles’ Day, which honors the Virgin Mary and the Immaculate Conception. To celebrate, people place candles and paper lanterns in their windows, on balconies, and in their front yards. It’s quite a beautiful sight to see an entire town lit like this.
St. Nicholas rewards good little girls and boys with gifts each Christmas in Austria, but children on the naughty list have more than a stocking full of coal to worry about! A frightening, beast-like creature called Krampus roams the streets searching for bad little children to punish by capturing them in his sack. YIKES!
For the 13 days leading up to Christmas in Iceland, instead of elves peeking in on children, tricky troll-like characters known as the Yule Lads visit them. KIds put their best shoes by the window each night, and if they’ve been good they can expect to find a nice gift in the morning. If not, their shoe may be filled with rotting potatoes.
Regardless of how you celebrate Christmas in your home, we hope that you are surrounded by family and friends. We would love for you to visit our Lake of the Ozarks bar & restaurant. You don’t have to be a member of the VFW because the Bunker Bar & Grill is open to the public, and every time you’re here you will be surrounded by friends, or at least people who will soon become friends. Merry Christmas to everyone, and we look forward to seeing you regularly in the new year!