Hi, friends! It’s me, Sparkle, back to share more holiday magic with you. One of the best things about being an Elf (besides hanging out with Santa and making tons of cool toys, of course) is getting to experience Christmas traditions around the world! It reminds all of us elves just how big, beautiful, and unique Earth is! Come along as I share some of my favorite places. Shhh, we’re taking the sleigh but we should be back before Santa even knows it’s missing!
Our first stop is in France.
French families serve bûche de Noël on Christmas Eve or Christmas morning, a yummy chocolate sponge cake log modeled after Yule logs that are traditionally burned during the Christmas season. You won’t see many Christmas trees here, though. Many homes, instead, choose to decorate by displaying a nativity. Joyeux Noël, everyone!
Next, we are stopping in Japan.
This one always makes me smile! Smiling really is an elf’s favorite, you know. People in Japan traditionally order KFC for their Christmas Day meal. It is a pretty big deal and a big win for the KFC marketing department who started the “Kentucky for Christmas!” campaign in the ‘70s. Other traditions include holiday shopping for the best deals and lots of festive decorations. Wishing you a Merii Kurisumasu as we head to our next location!
New Zealand is our third location to visit.
Now, this stop is extra fun! Christmas actually falls during the summer holiday in New Zealand. Many families celebrate by going to the beach or their vacation home and fixing a meal on the barbecue. Most homes will have a traditional Christmas tree as well. Kiwis also have their very own Christmas tree called the Pōhutukawa. Its bright red flowers are a popular holiday decoration! I could just kick back in a beach chair with a nice cold drink right now. But if we don’t get moving, we won’t get the sleigh back before Santa finds out!
Stop number four is in Poland.
Christmas Eve is celebrated with a family dinner. The meal, known as “Kolacja wigilijna” does not begin until the first star appears in the night sky to honor the Wisemen’s search. An empty place at the table is always set for unexpected guests because the Polish people believe no one should be alone or hungry. Isn’t that just the sweetest thing? I’d love to have a seat and try all the delicious foods that are sure to be on the table like barszcz (beetroot soup), makowiec (a poppyseed roll from sweet yeast bread), and uszka (small dumplings with mushrooms). Wesołych Świąt!
Next, I want to stop off in Canada.
Because Canada is so large and there are so many different cultures present, there are a great deal of different traditions. One in particular that I love is the Santa Claus Parade in Toronto. They’ve been hosting this festive parade since 1913! It’s also broadcast on CTV for our friends outside of Toronto to enjoy. In southwestern Nova Scotia, it’s customary to have fresh-caught lobster for Christmas Eve dinner. And in other parts of Canada, cookie baking, baking parties are popular. Each guest comes prepared with a recipe and ingredients. The cookies are baked and then shared with all in attendance. Come with an empty container and leave with it full of goodies? That’s my kind of party! My personal favorites are the cute gingerbread people and the cheese straws.
Our final location on our tour of Christmas traditions from around the world is El Salvador.
We are probably pressing our luck by continuing our tour of my favorite places. However, I simply cannot share my favorite holiday traditions from around the world without stopping in El Salvador! Christmas in El Salvador is bright and loud, chaotic and colorful! Fireworks are set off all during the season but especially on Christmas Eve, just before midnight. Christmas is celebrated by the whole family by attending Mass and then returning to their homes for a big feast. Turkey is typically on the table as are chirimol (a dish of chopped tomatoes, onions, spices, and lemon juice) and chicken and vegetable tamales.
We’d better scoot!
Now that I’ve shared a few of my favorite Christmas traditions around the world and their locations with you, I really must get this sleigh back to the North Pole! I hope that you’ve gotten even just a small taste of the holiday spirit as we’ve traveled through all four hemispheres. Wishing you sugarplum dreams and candy cane wishes as you celebrate the season with those you hold dear! Love, Sparkle!
Here are some other resources to help light up your holiday season!