Explore

Fascinating Holiday Traditions Around The World

By Leah Freeman-Haskin

Share

From burning devils to witches on tattered broomsticks, these holiday traditions have been celebrated around the world for centuries.  

St. Nick’s Evil Counterpart – Austria and Hungary

In certain parts of Europe, St. Nick doesn’t travel alone. His devil-like counterpart, Krampus, is said to punish bad children before Christmas. Bearing horns, dark hair, fangs, and a long tongue, Krampus carries chains and a basket for taking bad children to the underworld. Quite a different scene than jolly, old St. Nick.

Krampus | Llorenzi | Wiki Commons

RELATED: 5 Exquisite Places To Celebrate Christmas Around The Globe

A Game of Ganna – Ethiopia

In Ethiopia, Christmas is celebrated on January 7 with a series of celebrations and traditions called Ganna or Genna by the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. Around the time of Ganna, men and boys play a traditional game of the same name. Similar to our version of hockey, the game is played with curved stick and a round wooden ball and can be a brutal match that lasts until nightfall on Christmas Eve. According to local tradition, the biblical shepherds played the game when they first heard about the birth of Jesus.

A Witch Named La Befana – Italy

In Italian folklore, La Befana is a witch who brings good children treats on the morning of the Epiphany, January 6, marking the official end of the Christmas season. Flying on her tattered broomstick, La Befana leaves candies and chocolate for good children and a lump of coal for the bad ones. This tradition dates back to the eighth century, long before Santa Claus took up similar traditions.

La Befana | Ilyalisse | Getty Images

RELATED: Celebrate Christmas in Mexico: A Photo Essay

Remembering the Souls of the Dead – Portugal

The traditional Christmas meal in Portugal, called ‘Consoada’, is eaten during the evening of Christmas Eve and consists of codfish with green vegetables and boiled potatoes. This is normally followed by shellfish, wild meats or other expensive foods. Families set extra places at the table for alminhas a penar (“the souls of the dead”) to remember friends and family who have passed.

La Quema del Diablo – Guatemala

Every December 7 at 6:00 p.m. sharp, Guatemalans “burn the devil,” building bonfires outside their homes to mark the occasion. To cleanse their homes of evil on the night before the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, Guatemalans burn their trash topped with a devil statue.  

Photo by: Santiago Billy Prem | themixedculture.com
Share
Travel Noire

Leah Freeman-Haskin

Want more?

Get exclusive, unpublished tips from Travel Noire's CEO to help you get off the beaten path, into the hearts of locals and onto a better, more cultured life.

The Best Wine Vineyards In Africa

The Best Wine Vineyards In Africa

Africa is probably the last thing that comes to mind when you think of a wine destination, but the truth is, countries such as Morocco and Algeria have produced wine for hundreds of years. South Africa, and more recently Ethiopia, are large producers of wine as well.   Below are some of the best wine vineyards […]

Parker Diakite

Kumba Africa: The Black-Owned Booking Platform Connecting Travelers To Local Africa

Kumba Africa: The Black-Owned Booking Platform Connecting Travelers To Local Africa

A passion for wanting to create solutions and access in Africa is what inspired Tapiwa Ndlovu and Ayyoob Abrahams to create Kumba Africa, a one-stop booking platform for travelers visiting African destinations.  According to the co-founders, Kumba Africa was created after identifying a need where other travel booking platforms failed. The online platform connects travelers […]

Parker Diakite

Ethiopia Officially Bans Foreign Adoptions Of Its Children

Ethiopia Officially Bans Foreign Adoptions Of Its Children

Between 1999 and 2016, more than 15,000 children from Ethiopia were adopted by families in the United States, according to the U.S. State Department. However, the country’s parliament recently voted that it would no longer allow foreign adoption of its children. The decision comes after concerns and findings that children were being abused or even […]

DeAnna Taylor