Three Worldwide Traditions to Try This Holiday Season

The hustle and bustle of the holiday season is upon us. Whether you are enjoying a winter wonderland or a warm winter in your neck of the woods, spending quality time with your loved ones is what make the holidays so special. Whether you are participating in time-honored traditions or aiming to incorporate new ones, this list of international holidays traditions to try are sure to create fun-filled moments and memories for the future. Here are a few fun ideas to try.

Parranda: The Christmas tradition of the Puerto Rican parranda, rooted in a blend of Spanish, African, and indigenous Taino cultures, is a joyous musical gathering that brings friends, family, and community together during the holiday season. It typically begins after dark, when a group of friends or family members, known as parranderos, visit someone’s home unannounced carrying musical instruments like guitars, tambourines, and maracas, as well as traditional Puerto Rican instruments such as the cuatro and the güiro. It is customary for the hosts to offer food and drinks to the parranderos as a sign of appreciation for their visit. After enjoying the hospitality of the hosts, the parranda continues to another home. The homeowners, once part of the parranda, now become parranderos themselves and follow along with the group. The Puerto Rican parranda is a beautiful expression of Puerto Rican culture, filled with music, love, and celebration. 

Cracker-Pulling: A United Kingdom tradition, a Christmas cracker is a small, decorative cardboard tube, usually wrapped in colorful paper, that is twisted at both ends, designed to “pop” or “crack” when pulled apart by two people. Initially, the crackers were filled with sweets and love notes, however, over time, the sweets were replaced by novelty items, and the love notes were replaced by jokes or riddles. Today, Christmas crackers come in a wide variety of designs, colors, and themes, allowing people to choose ones that suit their personal taste or match the overall festive decorations. Some crackers even contain higher-quality gifts such as jewelry or small gadgets. In addition to being a fun activity, Christmas cracker-pulling has also become a symbol of togetherness and sharing. You can find many tutorials online on how to craft your own, as well, adding another fun activity to share with children and loved ones.

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Vasilopita: A traditional Greek cake that is made and enjoyed during the Christmas season, is made to celebrate the Feast of St. Basil, which takes place on January 1st each year. The cake itself is a round cake, symbolizing the circle of life, and it is usually sweet and rich with flavors such as orange zest, vanilla, and sometimes even brandy. What makes Vasilopita unique is that it contains a hidden coin or charm inside. This coin is normally a coin that has been cleaned and wrapped in aluminum foil, and is baked into the cake. The tradition surrounding the Vasilopita is that it is cut on New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day, after the stroke of midnight. The head of the household will make the sign of the cross over the cake, before slicing it and distributing pieces to each family member starting with the head of the household, followed by the rest of the family members, from eldest and working down to the youngest. It is believed that whoever finds the hidden coin or charm in their slice of cake will have good luck and blessings for the year ahead.

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Whether you choose to celebrate a very traditional holiday season or try something new, it is clear that no matter how you choose to celebrate, music, food, family and fun are the center of traditions and what makes each holiday season joyous and memorable.