Traditions Around the World

By: Abby Coffey

During the holidays, everyone is surrounded by family and loved ones, sharing amusing stories and enjoying each other’s company. Every family has a different unique tradition that they pass along to future generations, this is similar to how every country has different traditions and cultures which are passed down and shared to generations of their people. Each and every one of these traditions are unique and different in their own ways, and none of them are the same. For example, in Sweden there is a tradition called St. Lucia day which occurs on December 13, and just as many people in Ohio sit around with their friends and watch the ball drop when the clock hits 12, at least my family does, in Ecuador many people also celebrate the New Year with their own unique special traditions. Even though there are many holidays with their own unique traditions in December, there are also many other traditions happening around the world all the time.

Many countries celebrated these recent holidays in their own unique ways. In Spain there is a very unique tradition to celebrate the New Year with 12 grapes. Just as it turns midnight and the bell starts ringing the people of Spain are eating the grapes one-by-one for every ring of the bell. Some people in Scotland celebrate the beginning of the year with a slightly more hazardous tradition. While the people in Spain are eating grapes on New Year Eve the people of Stone haven, which is located in Scotland, are participating in a tradition that includes  swinging balls that are on fire while walking through the streets. Across the ocean in Ecuador they also celebrate the New year with fire. First the people of Ecuador create a will of all of their weaknesses. They made the will for a strawman which they dressed in their old clothes. When it turns midnight, they set the strawman on fire which represents them burning their weaknesses alongside the strawman. Another important holiday that many people celebrate around the world is Christmas. This popular holiday also has many unique traditions. For example, in Finland it is common for people to visit their loved ones who have died in the graveyards, and another tradition they have on Christmas eve is going to saunas in order to relax. In southern France, there is an old tradition meant to bring luck which is having a log burn in a fireplace beginning Christmas Eve, and ending New Year’s Eve.  Christmas time in Cleveland includes staying inside to escape the frigid, and bipolar temperature, but in Australia they celebrate by trading Christmas gifts outside while enjoying the hot temperature. In Greece, they exchange gifts in St. Basil’s day which occurs on January first instead of Christmas day. These are just some of the many fun, and unique traditions held around the world in many unique places.

Not only have I researched many traditions happening in different countries, but I have also personally experienced a different way to celebrate the holidays when I visited Arequipa which is located in Peru to visit my extended family. This was not my first or last trip that I had taken there, but it was my first time going there during the holiday season, and it was a unique experience that I’m not likely to forget any time soon. On Christmas, there was a big feast with many delicious Peruvian food which I ate until I felt that there was no more room in my stomach. Afterwards everyone got ready to visit church in the evening, and then after we had gone to church we then returned home. Instead of opening the presents in the morning, like I was used to, we opened them at night. Afterward we enjoyed each other’s company by sharing stories and eating delicious treats. The experience that I remember the most there during the holidays was watching the fireworks explode in the night sky when it turned 12 AM on Christmas Eve. I remember the fireworks making all of these weird shapes in the sky, and the feeling that I was a part of something remarkable.

Countries not only have traditions during the common holiday season, but they also have other unique traditions happening all the time, such as in Greece when it is common to spit on the bride for good luck, and there are even unique traditions happening in the United States without you even noticing, for example almost everyone tips in the United States whether the service to the restaurant they went to was good or bad, but in many other countries tipping is not common at all.