Christmas traditions from around the world (and Newgate)

By Adam Bull

As we move closer to the Christmas day, we thought it would be a nice idea to compile a cross-section of Christmas traditions from across the world, and from some of Newgate’s employees.

Personally, the greatest tradition in our family was the Christmas day scavenger hunt organised by my dad. In one exceptional year, my brothers and I were required to find pieces of paper around the house with 11 players from our football teams on them, organise the players into their formation, and turn the paper over to reveal your present’s location. Although I wouldn’t have gone with the centre-back pairing my dad chose, it was truly an inspired scavenger hunt.

Simone Fassom
“We don’t have any weird traditions but one thing we always do is watch The Snowman on Channel 4 every Christmas Eve. And every time, my son and I end up blubbing away on the sofa when the Snowman melts.  Breakfast on Christmas Day is always chocolate!

“For the last five Christmas Eves, I’ve donated blood at my local village hall. I’m a regular blood donor but five years ago my planned donation date was rescheduled for Christmas Eve. Since then, I’ve made a point of donating blood every Christmas Eve and I’ll be doing so again this year.  It’s always such a nice atmosphere with the Christmas music playing and mince pies and tea for afterwards. And the sense of giving someone a gift of a much-needed blood donation. One year I received a message to say that my donation had been given to a patient at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Woolwich which is where my daughter was born, so it felt really special.”

Guatemala
At sunset on 7th December, the eve of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, people gather in towns and villages across Guatemala to burn an effigy of the devil. A tradition established in the 17th century, people believed that in burning an effigy of the devil, they would cleanse their homes of the evils and misfortunes suffered in the previous year.

Jessica Sena
“Every year, my dad will place a new decoration on the tree and we all fight to find it (the tree has a ridiculous amount of decorations so it does take a while) and as I’ve got older started to do the same with one for him to find. They started as normal decorations but have now evolved to these new ones you see such as fire engines, planes or super tacky ones we choose for the simple fact that they are just awful”

Colombia
On 7th December, Colombia honours Mary and the Feast of the Immaculate Conception with an enchanting celebration of light that marks the start of the holiday season. Colombians illuminate their homes and streets with millions of white and coloured velas (candles) in patterned paper lanterns.

Laura Sears
“We break out the booze at 9am Christmas Day and I don’t think I drink a non-alcoholic bev all day… It used to be starting on Christmas Eve, when we’d go to my uncle’s every year on the 24th – the dads would go to the pub down the road, the mums would stay with us little ones. Then as we got older the mums would join the drinks and leave us with just the nans, but when we got old enough everyone would go to the pub. We’d then all pile back to the house for food (for which everyone had bought a dish of course, “picky” bits!). I was really sad when my aunt and uncle moved house, we don’t do this anymore!”

Japan
You may have come across this tradition before, but across Japan, millions of residents celebrate Christmas day with a big bucket of KFC. It started thanks to Takeshi Okawara, the manager of the first KFC in the country. Okawara woke up at midnight and jotted down an idea that came to him in a dream: a “party barrel” to be sold on Christmas. Okawara hoped a Christmas dinner of fried chicken could be a fine substitute for turkey, and so he began marketing his Party Barrel as a way to celebrate the holiday.