Holiday Traditions from Around the World

in Travel News

It may be Black Friday (America’s official kick-off to the holiday season), but remember that there are plenty of ways to celebrate the holidays that don’t involve breaking the bank.

If you’re looking for something new to do this year, take a cue from cultures around the world and integrate some of these activities and practices into your annual holiday traditions. Luminarias Shed a little light on what’s important this holiday season - like spending time with friends and family - with the Hispanic tradition of luminarias or farolitos. These are small lights or lanterns (often times a candle set in some sand inside a paper bag) that line driveways and streets during the holidays. Traditional luminarias are made with brown paper bags weighted down with sand and lit from within by a votive candle that is firmly placed in the sand so as not to tip over. They are usually arranged along streets or in multiple rows to create elaborate displays. This tradition is imbued with significance for many Roman Catholics, who believe the lights will lead the spirit of Christ to their homes. [caption id="attachment_4693" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Luminarias in Albuquerque, NM"]luminarias[/caption] An interesting twist on this tradition is to make ice luminaries to decorate outside your home for holiday parties. These follow the same idea as a traditional paper bag luminaria, but the bag is replaced by ice. For instructions on how to make these, see: Holiday Greeting Cards In France, holiday greetings are sent in the form of cartes de voeux (literally “wish cards”) that are decorated with bells, ivy and holly and given for the New Year. Inside, the sender writes a personal message wishing the receiver all the best in the new year. Holiday cards can get expensive, but making one’s own is a great alternative. You can also hand deliver them to save on postage.  After all, who wouldn’t like to receive a handmade card around New Years, after all of the holiday hubbub has died down? With the proliferation of e-card companies online have come endless options for sending free, personalized holiday wishes. Some families I know also send out an email with a festive holiday letter attached. This is a great way to stay in touch with family and friends far and near during the holidays. Making Holiday Decorations Making your own holiday decorations can be a great way to connect with different cultures (and perhaps relive past travels) while beautifying your home for the holidays on a budget. Deck your tree with Japanese origami ornaments. These can be made by punching a small hole and threading a string through any handmade origami piece. Purchase some beautiful paper and go for it! Make a traditional German lebkuchen (gingerbread house) or adapt it to make it your own. This can be a fun family project for a snowy afternoon. For ideas and instructions, see: International Culinary Traditions Make a traditional French Bûche de Noël (Yule log cake). These are typically made of chocolate and decorated with frosting made to look like bark and candy mushrooms. They are relatively easy to make and a definite crowd pleaser. For a good recipe, see: Whip up a batch of Mexican Bizcochos, flat cinnamon-flavored cookies or Polvorones (also known as Mexican wedding cakes or pan de polvo) -- pecan short bread cookies rolled in powdered sugar.

Previous post:

Next post: