6 Warm Holiday Traditions from Around the World That You Can Adopt

Everyone has their own cherished holiday traditions, but if you and your family are looking for a new way to celebrate and connect, get inspired by these fun and cozy traditions from around the world.

Candle in the Window – Ireland

The Irish tradition of lighting a candle in the window is hundreds of years old, and many Irish people will tell you that it signifies lighting the way for Mary and Joseph to help them find the stable in Bethlehem. Historians, on the other hand, will tell you that this tradition started sometime in the 17th century  when the Penal Laws in Ireland suppressed the Catholic religion. Catholic churches were outlawed and priests hid in fear of their lives, and they often visited homes in secrecy to bless a family and to say Mass. A candle in the window signalled to any passing priest that this was a Catholic home, and a priest was welcome to enter silently and join the family in prayer for Christmas. The Irish are renowned the world over for their hospitality, and this tradition is still widely practiced in Ireland and North America as a sign of welcome for anyone, friend or stranger, who might be passing by on Christmas Eve.

How to adopt this tradition: London Drugs has a wide range of beautiful candles for your windowsill. If fire safety is an issue, you can put your hospitality on display with these flameless candles.

“Nollaig Shona Duit”

Get Outside – Australia

Being in the Southern Hemisphere, Christmas happens right at the beginning of Australia’s summertime, so it just makes sense that many Australians spend their holidays in the great outdoors. Beach days, camping, barbecues and outdoor festivals are common Aussie holiday traditions.

How to adopt this tradition: Obviously, Canadian Christmas looks a lot different than in Australia, but why not take a cue from the adventurous Aussies and get outside? Bundle up the family and go for an after-dinner walk to look at Christmas lights, ring in the New Year with backyard snowball fight, or try a new winter sport like snowshoeing or ice skating. Stay warm with winter accessories from London Drugs.

“Merry Christmas, Mate!”

Declaration of Christmas Peace – Finland

The Declaration of Christmas Peace is publicly announced in many Finnish cities on Christmas Eve. The oldest and most popular event is in the old  capital of Turku, which is broadcast on the Finnish Broadcasting Company and is viewed by millions of Finns and Swedes. The tradition goes as far back as the 1320s: the reading of the declaration, the wording of which hasn’t changed much since the 19th century, is accompanied by traditional music performed by local choirs and bands, along with a public rendition of the Finnish and Swedish national anthems. Originally used as a reminder for citizens that offenders who committed crimes on religious holidays were given harsher punishments, it is now a reminder for people to keep peace in their lives and treat each other with love and respect.

How to adopt this tradition: Have everyone write their declaration for peace in the coming year, and list all of they ways they will promote peace and respect in their lives, then share them at the family holiday gathering.

“Hyvää Joulua”

Giant Lantern Festival – Philippines

Caryl Joan Estrosas

Photo by Caryl Joan Estrosas

The Giant Lantern Festival signifies the beginning of the Christmas season in the Philippines. Each year on the Saturday before Christmas, revelers gather in the capital of San Fernando to witness the splendid display of colourful electric lanterns, or parol, which symbolize the Star of Bethlehem. The festival evolved from an older tradition called lubenas, where a lantern procession would travel through neighbourhoods to take residents to church on Christmas. But, when electricity was introduced to Philippine cities in the 1930s, all bets were off, and neighbourhoods began competing against one another for the coveted championship. These impressive lanterns can be made of up to 10,000 light bulbs! Here’s a little taste:

How to adopt this tradition: Warm up the dark winter nights with a homemade lantern making competition! Here is a link to some easy and beautiful DIY lanterns.

Maligayang Pasko”

Stir the Christmas Pudding – England

Ever wonder about the “figgy pudding” from “Deck the Halls?” Wonder no more! The old English tradition of “Stir-Up Sunday” had everyone in the house take a turn stirring the Christmas pudding while making a wish for the coming year.

How to adopt this tradition: Now, not everyone is a fan of old-fashioned Christmas pudding (or fruitcake as we call it here in Canada), so if you’d rather sink your teeth into some delicious cookies or pie, get the whole family involved! Make your favourite holiday treats at home, with everyone taking a step in the baking process, while making a wish for the new year. London Drugs has all the gear you need for your next baking project, from the very practical, to the silly fun.

“Happy Christmas!”

Christmas Eve Book Exchange – Iceland

Photo by Anthony Tran on Unsplash

Along with the usual gifts on Christmas Day, Icelanders also exchange books with family members early on Christmas Eve, then spend the rest of the night in at home, reading and relaxing. Sounds like winter bliss, doesn’t it?

How to adopt this tradition: Easy – give books as gifts to your family or friends! Just make sure to tell them they have to open them on Christmas Eve, and make them promise to settle in for a cozy night at home. Check out London Drugs’ book selection here.

Gleðileg jól”


We wish you a memorable holiday with family and friends, whether you’re celebrating time-honoured traditions, or discovering new ones. 


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