Christmas and New Year traditions around the world

Mondassur wishes you a Merry Christmas and a happy new year 2021 better than in 2020, which will unfortunately remain memorable… Mondassur will also be there this year to help you compare the best travel insurance plans and find the expat insurance most suited to your situation overseas. We will now take a world tour of the traditions of the holiday season.


St. Nicholas

In most countries, Saint Nicholas is celebrated on December 6th. The ancestor of Santa Claus and patron saint of small children was a bishop of a city in Asia Minor in the 4th century. Legend has it that Saint Nicholas resurrected three small children who had been killed by a cruel butcher.

Christmas fires

Called Hailhe of Nadau. The principle of Christmas fires is that on December 24, the inhabitants of a commune of the Landes or a neighborhood gather around the fire for a moment of sharing delicacies and drinks, playing music.

Omisoka in Japan

On December 31st, if you’re going to travel to Japan,as midnight approaches, the bells of Buddhist temples begin to resonate in the silence of the night.
Buddhism teaches that man is tempted by 108 sins such as desire, hatred, anger, jealousy, mistrust, etc. We are being cleansed of these spiritual poisons at the end of the year thanks to the 108 strokes of the bell. 107 blows are sounded before midnight and then the last one is struck at the beginning of the new year, to signify that it must start without staining. Some temples offer visitors to ring the bell once per person.

In Cebu, Philippines

The party takes place with the family over a good meal. On the table, Filipinos lay fruit baskets, signs of prosperity for the coming year. At midnight, the family gathers to watch the fireworks and make as much noise as possible to ward off evil spirits! Firecrackers, horns, engine noises, everything is allowed to chase away the bad spell.

The 12 grapes in Spain

If you have chosen to spend your Christmas holiday in Spain,tradition dictates that you ate 12 grapes on 31 December when midnight rings: 1 at each bell to bring you luck throughout the 12 months of the year.

Ded Moroz (Russian Santa Claus)

At midnight, it’s champagne, fireworks and especially the time of gifts. Ded Moroz arrives with his daughter: the beautiful “Snegourochka” to distribute the gifts.
It’s always the girl who takes care of the distribution because her father is too old to do it!

The Giant Lantern Festival, Philippines

For Christmas, the city of San Fernando organizes, every Saturday before the vigil, a contest of giant lanterns in the shape of stars. They are supposed to represent the star of Bethlehem.

The Goat of Golle, Sweden

If you spend Christmas in Sweden,Christmas gifts are not brought by Santa Claus, but by the Julbock, or Christmas goat. On Christmas Eve, the children weave small goats or goats with straw before letting it fly to the country of gifts to bring them back… In some villages in the Scandinavian countries, goat of Gavle, a giant version of the Julbock, is set up, to which the inhabitants must set fire on Christmas Eve.

Krampus, Austria

In Austria and parts of Germany, the krampus, a mythical creature with horns, accompanies Saint Nicholas. The krampus punishes children who have behaved badly during the year… It’s kind of the equivalent of the bogeyman.

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