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Holiday Traditions From Around the World

This holiday season will feel different from others but while many popular traditions have been upended, you can still deck the halls and trim the tree, get a fresh take on the season with some inspiration from these unique holiday traditions!

Similar to the 12 days of Christmas, Iceland celebrates 13 days. Each night before Christmas, Icelandic children are visited by the 13 Yule Lads. After placing their shoes by the window, the little ones will head upstairs to bed. In the morning, they’ll either have received candy (if they’re good) or be greeted with shoes full of rotten potatoes if they’re bad. And you thought coal was a terrible gift!

In Norway, the Christmas season, called julebord, begins December 3rd, filling up local bars and restaurants throughout the month. Families celebrate Little Christmas on December 23rd; each have their own ritual for the day that may include decorating the tree, making a gingerbread house, and eating risengrynsgrøt (hot rice pudding).

The Netherlands
Sinterklaas is the Dutch name for Saint Nicholas, the man recognized by children by his long white beard, red cape, and red miter. Kids put a shoe by the chimney or back door and wake up on Christmas morning to find treats like gingerbread men, marzipan, and chocolate letters inside.

The Yule Goat has been a Swedish Christmas symbol dating back to ancient pagan festivals. However, in 1966, the tradition got a whole new life after someone came up with the idea to make a giant straw goat, now referred to as the Gävle Goat. According to the official website, the goat is more than 42 feet high, 23 feet wide, and weighs 3.6 tons. Each year, the massive goat is constructed in the same spot. Fans can even watch a livestream from the first Sunday of Advent until after the New Year when it’s taken down.

A rousing blend of fireworks, bonfires, dancing and food rings in the New Year in Italy, where December 31st is celebrated as the feast day of San Silvestro. (The medieval
saint died on December 31st, 335 A.D.)

Food-loving Italians mark the occasion with a delicious meal, but there are special requirements for a New Year’s Eve dinner. The main course should include both lentils and pork: Lentils represent wealth, while pork symbolizes life’s richness.

Made with lentils and slow-cooked, pork sausage called cotechino, the classic New Year’s Eve dish is called cotechino con lenticchie, a savory treat that’s perfect with a bottle of Italian sparkling wine.

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