This post is part of the Advent Calendar series

Read About Winter Holiday Traditions From Around The World

By Beth Ogden

When I was in second grade, we spent the month of December learning about winter holiday traditions in different countries around the world. I found it fascinating, and a couple of years later our family decided to start celebrating one of the holidays I had learned about: St. Lucia's Day, which is a Swedish holiday that is celebrated each year on December 13th. We encourage you to read about a holiday (or several) from a different country or culture.

Here are some ideas, along with where you can find some information about each holiday:

Saint Lucia's Day (Sweden): Celebrated each year on December 13th, the holiday is held to bring light to the long winter nights and days. You can read more about St. Lucia's Day here.

Saint Nicholas Day (most common in Germany, but also celebrated elsewhere): St. Nicolas is the patron saint of children. On December 6th, children set out shoes or boots, which are filled with sweets and goodies if they have been good throughout the year. You can read more about the traditions and history of this holiday .

Krampus (Germany & Austria): In some cultures, the benevolent St. Nicholas has a sinister helper, such as the fierce demon with huge horns called Krampus. On the night of December 5th, Krampus punishes children for being bad and kidnaps them. While certainly a terrifying figure, he is still popular in both Germany and Austria. You can read more about Krampus here.

Hanukkah: Hanukkah is a Jewish holiday celebrated each December (this year's celebration began on December 2nd and ends tonight). It is an eight-day wintertime “festival of lights”. Candles are lit on the menorah each night and there are special prayers and fried foods. Read more about Hanukkah here.

Kwanzaa: Kwanzaa is an African American and Pan African holiday celebrated December 26th to January 1st that celebrates and affirms African family and social values. There are 7 principles of Kwanzaa, as well as 7 symbols and 7 candles. Each day, the family comes together to light a candle and talk discuss the principle for the day. Read more about Kwanzaa here.

Christmas: While Christmas is celebrated all over the globe, traditions vary greatly. In the Eastern Orthodox faith, it is celebrated on January 7th rather than December 25th. I spent two years living in the Eastern European country of Moldova. While some traditions are the same, others differed from those I'm used to here in Walton. For example, they have caroling, but the songs are different. In addition to caroling, they also have a tradition called uraturi, during which boys go house to house and perform chants in exchange for money, candy or cookies, and braided bread. You can read more about Moldova's Christmas and New Year traditions here.

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