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Traditions from Around the World


Writer Lisa Milbrand honors her family’s German roots by celebrating St. Nicholas Day on December 6, kicking off the holiday season with stockings filled with candy and small gifts. Below she shares some traditions from other countries. Perhaps it’s time to add a new tradition to add to those from your past.

  • Dreidel - Dreidel, a game played with a top, is an essential part of the Hanukkah festivities (and a great way for kids to earn gelt, or chocolate candy shaped like coins).

  • Books - In Iceland, people exchange gifts of books on Christmas Eve, then everyone snuggles up with their new books and some chocolate to enjoy the day.

  • Light a Candle - The Irish light a candle in their window to welcome guests, night and day.

  • Treat-Filled Shoes - In the Netherlands, Germany, and many other countries, kids put out their shoes to be filled with treats, in lieu of stockings.

  • House Cleaning - The Japanese give their house a good cleaning in the lead-up to New Year's Day to get a fresh start in the new year.

Click here to read Milbrand’s full article for Real Simple, where she shares information on the various holidays celebrated in December, “Santa Alternatives,” decorations, and holiday dishes from every corner of the globe.


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