Christmas is arguably the most international of all events, celebrated in countries across every continent. However, traditions and customs still vary wildly from region to region.
Anyone pulling together a Christmas marketing campaign or company event need only consider the small selection of traditions below to see that there’s a lot more to take into account than just a literal translation of ‘Happy Christmas’.
Japan – Finger Lickin’ Festivities
Thanks to the successful “Kurisumasu ni wa kentakkii!” (Kentucky for Christmas!) marketing campaign delivered by KFC in 1974, the US fast food chain has managed to forge a place as the ‘Christmas staple’ in Japan. While the date is not an official holiday in the country, people often queue up or even book their buckets in advance just to take part in the tradition of enjoying a KFC for Christmas.
Venezuela – Roll on the Holidays
Every year in the town of Caracas, Venezuela, local roads are closed to traffic on Christmas morning so hundreds of people can travel to mass on roller skates. The tradition creates such a spectacle that young children have taken to tying a piece of rope to their toe the night before so skaters ‘can wake them as they fly past’ the next morning.
Portugal – Remembering Relatives
Like many other countries, Christmas in Portugal is celebrated with a great family feast. However, the Portuguese also adhere to a tradition known as Consoda, which sees extra table settings placed for Alminhas a Penar or ‘the souls of the dead’. As part of the meal, each family gives gifts of food to the souls of lost loved ones in the hope that this act will increase their fortunes in the year to come.
Finland – Finnish Father Christmas
The name Joulupukki means Christmas buck, or goat, and refers to the Finnish equivalent of Santa Claus. Despite bending to modern culture and taking on the red coat we know and love, Joulupukki continues to travel through the snow with his reindeer on Christmas Eve as part of Finnish folktales.
Wales – An Alternative Mary
Translated to ‘grey mare’ or ‘Holy Mary’ in English, the Welsh custom of Mari Lwyd is a pre-Christian tradition that sees a horse figure made from a horse skull, bells, ribbons and a white sheet paraded around local streets in remote parts of Wales. Originally, a party would carry the figure door-to-door and challenge families to a battle of rhyming insults in Welsh, as part of a custom known as pwnco.
France – An Extended Feast
In France the main Christmas meal is known as Réveillon, based on the word réveil or waking because the long dinner requires participants to stay awake until midnight or beyond. Beginning on Christmas Eve, the meal continues until Christmas Day and is sometimes followed by entertainment or dancing to help keep everyone awake.
Bubbles offer translation in hundreds of different languages, allowing our clients to connect with markets the world over. Our experts’ first-hand knowledge of local cultures and traditions is evident in their translation work, so your new audiences will know exactly what you mean when they see your marketing campaign.