Wildthentic’s Top Three International Holiday Traditions

The year is winding down and we thought it’d be a good time to discuss what’s on (almost) everyone’s mind…the holidays! December is a month filled with exciting festivities regardless of your spiritual or religious beliefs. Those of Jewish faith celebrate Hanukkah, whereas Hindus celebrate Pancha Ganapati, and Christians, Christmas. Not to mention, the array of secular celebrations like Kwanzaa, Winter Solstice, and New Year’s Eve. Because there is so much to enjoy this holiday season we decided to give you a breakdown of our top three holiday traditions. Overall, December is a month filled with joy, remembrance, and overall excitement…so, let’s get to it!

1. There are many holiday traditions in Iceland but our favourite of the season is that of the Yule Lads

The Yule Lads are somewhat like Iceland’s version of what other parts of the world consider Santa Claus. There are 13 lads, all of which are mischievous. These Father Christmases would go out separately on their very own night and leave treats, and in some cases unfortunate gifts to Icelandic children for the 13 nights leading up to Christmas. This holiday tradition dates back hundreds and years and was even outlawed for a while. In 1746 parents were officially forbidden from telling stories of the Yule Lads. The tradition goes as follows, Icelandic children would begin to leave their boots out on December 12th in order for the lads to come and fill goods. If one of the lads was unhappy with the behavior of the child that year he would fill a boot or shoe with rotting potatoes as opposed to a lovely treat. Now, the plot thickens. Not only were the children subject to the Yule Lads and their temperament, they would also have to content with Gryla, a giant creature that comes down from the mountains and boils naughty children alive, along with The Christmas Cat who would eat anyone who was not wearing at least one new piece of clothing on Christmas Eve. As you see, not even the well-behaved Icelandic children were not off the hook. Now, the lads are quirky figures who are less creepy and more quirky and Icelandic children no longer fear being eaten up or boiled. They get to enjoy the jolly holiday spirit along with the rest of us while still keeping part of their holiday tradition alive. The Yule Lads have become adorable staples each with their own personality, much like Snow White’s Seven Dwarfs. Christmas-time in Iceland might have had a grim history but luckily, it has evolved into what is now known as a beautiful and exciting time for adults and children alike.

2. Second on our list of holiday traditions is Ecuador’s yearly burning of effigies 

This New Year’s tradition dates all the way back to 1895 when a yellow fever epidemic ravaged the country. In order to cleanse the nation and its population from the disease Ecuadorians began burning all the coffins and old clothes of deceased individuals. This act not only helped secure the safety of the people but it also served as an act of cleansing and purification. Out of tragedy came a bright new outlook on life. Now, the burning of the effigies symbolizes and New Year and a new beginning for the people of Ecuador. The flames consume the old and allow for a rebirth to occur. The figures burned today are done so in a lighthearted manner. The scultpures and or models also manage to bring communities and families together due to the elaborate work required to create them. Some effigies tower over the average sized person whereas others are intricately and vividly painted. These models are then paraded through the city. Some families make due with makeshift scarecrows stuffed with newspaper. Before the arson begins, men will dress as the “widows” of the effigies before seeing in the New Year, talk about fiery welcome!

3. Lastly, we have the Takanakuy Festival in Peru

Takanakuy is a Peruvian holiday held on December 25th. Some might argue this is the most curious event found on our list of holiday traditions considering it involves fighting. On this day, Peruvians gather in order to hash out old conflicts. The event occurs in many towns throughout Peru, although it is predominately celebrated in Cuzco and Lima. What makes this day so interesting, other than the obvious, is that once the violence is over and the fights are settled, many of the contestants go out for a meal and or a drink afterwards! There are hundred of holiday traditions around the world, all of which we love and respect. Please remember that there is still time to witness one of these traditions for yourself. If you’re interested in seeing how another culture brings in the New Year please visit our website at Wildthentic.com. In our opinion, the best way to celebrate a year past is by seeing something new. What are some of your favourite holiday traditions?  

We hope you enjoyed this article…until next year, Wild Ones!