5 Fun Holiday Traditions From Around the World

I think we can all agree that holiday traditions are important.  Whether it’s watching a beloved Christmas movie, baking special cookies, or doing a certain outdoor activity, our fondest memories are usually tied not to shopping and gifts, but to a holiday tradition we have been doing since childhood.

It is wonderful to carry on traditions through the years and across generations, but it is also wonderful to introduce the occasional new ones every now & then as well. If you are looking to mix things up a bit and introduce a new tradition or two this year, check out my list of 5 fun holiday traditions from around the world and get inspired!

Christmas Pickle

Does your Christmas Tree have a pickle in it? If not, maybe it should.

This holiday tradition is said to have started in Germany. After families decorated the tree together, the parents would hide a pickle ornament somewhere on the branches. In the morning when the children woke up they had to search for the pickle. Whoever located the Christmas Pickle got to be the first one to open a present, and/or receives a special prize or gift. Now, while rumour has it that this adorable holiday tradition started in old world Germany, historians have yet to come up with any real data that this is indeed true. Whatever the origin of the Christmas Pickle though, we think it is very fun, and is a tradition absolutely worth adopting.


Did you know that many cultures in the world differentiate between Christmas Day on December 25th and Saint Nicholas’ Day on December 6th? Many people (Dutch, Germans, and French to name a few) do the bulk of their gift giving on Saint Nicholas’ Day, and save Christmas as a religious celebration.

Sarcastic Holiday Poetry

The Dutch have many fun Christmas/Saint Nicholas’ Day traditions. One of which is writing funny poems to accompany gifts. The poems (called Sinterklaas gedichten) are meant to be teasing in nature and poke a bit of light-hearted fun at the gift recipient. Then the recipient must read the poem out loud for all to hear before opening their gift. We think this would be a super fun, very hilarious new holiday tradition to start for yourselves this year… Only as long as nobody takes themselves too seriously!

Christmas Eve Book Exchange

Iceland has the wonderful tradition of book-giving on Christmas Eve. Icelanders open their books on Christmas Eve and then spend the rest of the evening curled up, reading their new book, and sipping hot chocolate. What a magical way to spend Christmas Eve!

Feed the Reindeer

Many of us leave milk and cookies out for Santa, but have you ever stopped to think about Santa’s reindeer? They’re only pulling a heavy sleigh, a jolly old elf, and an enormous bag of toys ACROSS THE ENTIRE PLANET IN A SINGLE NIGHT. Surely they’re hungry too. Fortunately, many cultures in the world haven’t forgotten about Santa’s crew of hungry ungulates and include them in their holiday traditions.

For example, Dutch children leave carrots and a handful of hay in their shoes and place the shoes either by the fireplace or outside the front door. Santa will make sure to give the reindeer their snacks, and maybe leave a few candies or a small toy in its place to say

Holiday Cake aka Bûche Noël

CAKE ON CHRISTMAS? Say no more! In France, families enjoy a yule-log-inspired cake around the holidays. This cake (which is essentially what we North American’s would call a ‘Swiss Roll’) is iced and garnished to look like the branch of a tree. The flavour possibilities are nearly limitless. But as with any other cake, chocolate is hugely popular. As if we needed a reason to eat more cake!

Tell us about your Holiday Traditions!

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