As Christmas approaches, the trees are going up in shops and homes. Windows are decorated with tinsel, and lights shine out everywhere. Despite being a Muslim country, the UAE is incredibly open and respectful towards Christmas. In fact, festivities in the country are some of the most vibrant worldwide as expats shop, meet, mingle and celebrate with friends and family.
We’re all familiar with Christmas lore, but it’s worth remembering that this joyous occasion is celebrated in very many different ways around the world. Here are some interesting differences in how people mark Christmas worldwide.
It’s not always on December 25th:
In countries where people follow the Orthodox Church, Christmas isn’t on the 25th at all. In Russia, Ukraine and some other countries, the holiday is celebrated on January 7th every year. So if you wish a Russian friend “Merry Christmas” on the 25th, you’d be around two weeks early!
Hide your brooms:
In Norway, ancient tradition says that witches come out on Christmas day to find brooms and take to the sky. As a preventative measure, Norwegian families hide all their brooms and other cleaning implements for the day. Men fire off shotguns outside their homes to scare evil spirits away.
Strap on those skates:
If you happen to be in Venezuelan capital Caracas on Christmas morning, you’d better have roller skates with you. City residents are fond of attending early morning Christmas mass – and the best part is that they skate there! The authorities get in on the act, and clear the roads for the skaters to roll on unencumbered.
Get used to blubber :
Christmas feasts in Greenland aren’t for the faint hearted. The Inuit sit down not to a turkey but to strips of whale blubber wrapped in raw whale skin. The traditional dish – Mattack – is considered a Christmas delicacy. Alternatively, you could opt for Kiviak, which comprises seal skin stuffed with seabirds, buried and left to rot for months before being dug up and served for Christmas. Enjoy!
Seats for ghosts :
If you’re in Portugal, Christmas feasts aren’t just for the living. Families set aside seats at the table for deceased relatives to join the celebration. Say hello to the ghosts of Christmas past.
Predict your love life :
If you’re in the Czech Republic, Christmas is an excellent time to figure out how successful you might be in the romance department for the year to come. Unmarried women will stand with their backs to their front door, and hurl a shoe over their shoulder. If it lands with the heel facing the door, you’re out of luck. But if your shoe has its toe pointing towards the door, you’ll be married within the year. Here’s to a happy ever after.
So there you have it – a list of wonderful Christmas traditions from around the globe. Wherever you are in the world, we hope you have a very special holiday season, and a very merry Christmas indeed!