The Student News Site of Our Lady of Good Counsel High School

The Talon

  • March 25April 11 – 14: Band and Chorus Members in Chicago for Music Competition. Break a leg!!!
  • March 25Wednesday, March 27 - GC Students Leave for Italy...CIAO!
  • March 25Easter Break: March 28 - April 7 ENJOY!!!
The Student News Site of Our Lady of Good Counsel High School

The Talon

The Student News Site of Our Lady of Good Counsel High School

The Talon

Christmas Traditions At Home and Around the World

As we wind down the Christmas season with the Feast of the Epiphany, let us think about Christmas celebrations and traditions worldwide.
Luca Trassini on Unsplash
The wonder of Christmas is universal and celebrated in all languages.

Every year, countries around the world celebrate Christmas, from Japan to Austria and the Vatican to Ethiopia. Each country celebrates Christmas differently, from a midnight mass in Rome to fried chicken feasts in Japan, scary Austrian folklore, and overnight Mass in Ethiopia.

Midnight Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica

Midnight Mass At St. Peter’s Basilica

Held in St. Peter’s Peter’sa annually on December 24th, Vatican City hosts one of the most watched masses of the year, the midnight mass. It was first introduced to the Western World in 430 by Pope Sixtus III at the Basilica of St. Mary Major and celebrated by Jerusalem Catholics for many decades or centuries before. The midnight mass rapidly became a beloved Christmas tradition for Roman Catholics, Anglicans, and Lutherans who observe this custom. Some 800 years after the midnight mass was celebrated in the Basilica of St. Mary Major, priests were authorized to conduct three masses on Christmas Day, further popularizing midnight mass. Since then, Christmas mass has become popular, with the Vatican requiring tickets to attend midnight mass at St. Peter’s Basilica. Although midnight mass is held at 7:30 pm at St. Peter’s Basilica, it is beloved by Christians worldwide.

Japan’s Beloved KFC Tradition

In the land of the rising sun and home of anime, KFC’s acclaimed fried chicken is king on Christmas Day. The popularization of celebrating Christmas in Japan began as a way to entertain children in the late 1960s, with companies promoting cakes and sweets in Japan during the Christmas season. Only a few years later, in 1974, KFC launched the “Kentucky For Christmas” campaign, which the manager of the first KFC in Japan created. The

Japan’s KFC Tradition

manager overheard a group of foreigners discussing their ill-fated attempts at finding turkey for Christmas, settling for KFC instead. The “Kentucky for Christmas” campaign was a smashing success, cementing KFC as a hallmark of Japanese Christmas celebrations.

Christmas Traditions in Austria

In Austria, the setting for the hit movie “Sound of Music,” Krampus looms menacingly over Austria’s misbehaving youth. The legend of Krampus traces its roots back hundreds of years to Austrian Alpine folklore as part of old pagan celebrations of the winter solstice. Krampus, in pagan tradition and the modern era, can be depicted as a half-man, half-goat hybrid who appears during the Christmas season to punish mischievous youth.

Incorporated with Christian tradition, Krampus still holds his historic role, shadowing St. Nicholas and dishing out punishments as he sees fit. In the modern era, Krampus continues his centuries-old tradition, reaching American eyes in 2004, when Monte Beauchamp published Krampus cards.

Krampus…a Christmas tradition in Austria

Krampus reached the height of his popularity in 2015 when the film “Krampus” was launched, directed by Michael Dougherty, the film made $42,725,475 in the United States and $18,823,232 internationally, totaling $61,548,707.

Overnight Mass in Ethiopia 

On the Horn of Africa, the world’s largest landlocked country, Ethiopia, celebrates Christmas each year on January 7th. However, preparation for Christmas starts much earlier with the “Fast of the Prophets” (participants abstain from all non-vegan products) beginning on November 25th, which is believed to cleanse the body ahead of the birth of Jesus Christ. Cutting ahead to Christmas Eve, Christians in Ethiopia attend “overnight mass” beginning at 6:00 pm and ending on Christmas Day at 3:00 am; in total, the sermon lasts 9 hours. During the sermon, the parishioners wear white cotton garments, called Netela. Parishioners form lines around

Overnight mass in Ethiopia

the side of the Church, which are typically round in Ethiopia, a choir sings, and traditional Ethiopian instruments are played. At this point, the parishioners are given candles, and the Church’s priest blesses people for the upcoming year. The priest conducts his procession twice around the Church, and following the procession, he says Mass. 

Each Christmas culture around the world celebrates the birth of our lord differently, from feasting on KFC to scaring mischievous youth and celebrating nighttime masses. Every tradition serves its purpose well and brightens the Christmas season for its participants. No matter how you celebrate Christmas, we hope you have a joyous Holiday season.