Whether you are opening a gift or meeting someone new at a party, the holiday season can be a time of revelation and surprise. But, as much as the season is about discoveries, it is also a time of reflection and offers a great opportunity to connect with our family’s past and to enjoy traditions that have been passed on from generation to generation.
From your AncestryDNA results, you may have discovered connections to new countries or regions and it could be fun to incorporate some of these worldly traditions into your holiday celebrations.
Here are just a few to consider from around the world:
Poland: At Christmas, Polish families will set an extra place setting and chair at the table. While there are a few different explanations regarding the origins of this custom, all seem to agree that it is a symbol of generosity and preparedness — you never know when you may need to host another person.
Venezuela: The holidays can be hectic, but sometimes you just need to roll with it. At least, this is the case in Caracas, Venezuela. On Christmas Eve, the city’s residents make their way to Mass by… roller skating.
Latvia: This small, Baltic country gave rise to a big holiday tradition: the Christmas Tree. The first documented use of an evergreen tree at Christmas was in Latvia during the 15th century. Germany followed suit and the tradition took root in countries across the world.
Scotland: December 31 or Hogmanay as they say in Scotland, is a night for street festivals and parties. In the city of Edinburgh, live music, DJs and outdoor bars abound. At midnight, revelers stop to admire Fireworks and to sing Auld Lang Syne.
Bulgaria: Dinner on December 24 is 100 per cent vegetarian. Pass the kale and let the festivities begin!
Canada: Turkey, stockings, Santa Claus and snow are the order of the day in Canada. But, did you know we also have a lesser known tradition? Each year, Canada sends the biggest and best fir tree grown in Nova Scotia to Boston, Massachusetts to thank them for their help during the Halifax Explosion over 100 years ago.
Japan: The Japanese ring the New Year in in style — literally. To mark the start of a new calendar year, temples across the country ring their bells 108 times, an event known as Joya no kane. The ritual is meant to drive away any negative emotions from the past year.
Italy: Why not kick off the New Year with some candy in your shoes? To mark the Epiphany on January 6, children across Italy are delighted by la Befana. The kind witch leaves treats in the shoes of good boys and girls, but coal for those who are on her naughty list. Sound familiar? La Befana long predates Santa Claus, with some dating the tradition back to the eighth century.
Ethiopia: Christmas, Ganna or Genna as it is known in Ethiopia, is celebrated later in Ethiopia (January 6 and 7). People dress all in white to mark the day.
What are some traditions that are part of your holiday season? Are you planning to include any new ones this year, based on your AncestryDNA findings?