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Last Updated on March 3, 2023 by Jella Erhard

Fun Winter Traditions & Festivals Around The World

As we are approaching the most beloved celebration of the year, we thought it would be a great idea to have a look at some of the fun Winter Traditions around the world.

Despite the cold in some parts of the world, the last months of the year are amongst the most beautiful times one could wish for. Just to remind you how magical this time of the year is, we collected a few countries, where Christmas and winter months are beautifully unique.

In some countries, the Christmas turkey will be on the tables, while in many others you find some delicious surprises. Let’s take a look at countries, where locals have a special way of celebrating Winter time.

1| Japan

Winter Illumination at Nabana-no-Sato - Fun Winter Traditions around the world

Photo © – Wikipedia

There are so many amazing things about Japan and one of them is how Japanese people shaped Christmas to be their own. It is typical to Japan that things don’t just happen in a simple way, on this island everything tends to be unique, just as the way Christmas is present on the island. 

Since Japanese religions and traditions don’t have much to do with Christmas, the idea of decorating and exchanging gifts were adopted just for the sake of it. In December you are going to find restaurants serving delicious and artistic “Christmas themed” bento boxes and mochi desserts as well as sushi cakes.

There is another newly developed fun tradition in Japan and it is KFC aka Kentucky for Christmas. Japanese KFC started a promotion in 1974 and even came out with a festive chicken bucket for families who decided to go chicken this Christmas. It proves to be so popular, some people places pre-orders months in advance to avoid waiting in queues for hours.

Besides the festive bites, you are going to find magic while exploring cities dressed in winter lights, and of course the famous light festival in Kuwana city.

2| Thailand

Thailand fun winter traditions

Photo © – Unsplesh

Christmas is not religiously significant or celebrated widely in the country, however, if you are in Bangkok or another large city in Thailand, malls and some streets are beautifully decorated.

If you are on the road for long and miss the traditional vibe this time of the year, you certainly will be surrounded by the festivity you craved. You can also participate in most big cities in the Countdown Celebrations on New Years’ eve or one of the majestic lantern festivals around the country.

As Thai people are very open to other cultures, and inevitably adopted throughout the years, it is one of the closest to how Christmas is celebrated in western cultures in south east Asia.

3| Iran

jump over the fire Iran fun winter traditions

Photo © – Flickr

If winter is getting boring, boost your adrenaline in Iran on Chaharshanbe Suri (Red Wednesday). The festival of fire is intended to say farewell to the winter and welcome spring. It is held on the last Wednesday before spring. Huge bonfires are lit and the brave ones jump through them while singing to gain energy and power against dark forces while being purified.

The festival continues with people running on the streets door to door banging on pots asking for sweet delicacies.

A significantly quieter celebration in Iran is Yalda, held on the winter solstice, to welcome the coming period. It is a much more intimate feast, only with family at home. People usually eat red such as pomegranates symbolizing the dawn.

4| Canada

fun winter traditions in Canada

Photo © – Flickr

Marking the beginning of the festive season, the Cavalcade of lights in Toronto is one of the brightest events on the continent. At the end of November (on the 24th in 2018) more than 300.000 energy efficient LED lights light up the Nathan Philips square along with fireworks and the 60-foot (18 meters) Christmas tree comes to light as well.

There is live music, ice skating and all the fun a family, adults and youngsters may look for. The following weeks are eventful as well; there are Christmas market you can always find something entertaining and delicious.

5| Iceland 

Yule Lads, Fun winter traditions in Iceland

Photo © – Flickr

Which other country would be a more ideal destination during winter, than the land of fire and ice. There are, of course, amazing places to visit while there, including a hot stream in the minuses, however, the interesting tradition of the Yule lads is going to give winter fun a new meaning. It’s also one of the most fun winter festivals in Europe that’s a whole lot of fun for adults and kids alike.

The Yule lads are 13 cheeky folklore figures, who 13 days before Christmas begin tricking (and sometimes rewarding) children in Iceland. Just like Santa, they reward the good kids by filling their boots with goodies, while punishing the naughty ones with rotten potato, not very much like Santa…

6| Tibet

Photo © – Flickr

New Year’s celebrations, called Losar is going to sweep you off your feet. This colorful festivity takes place in January or February, sometimes March, depending on the Tibetan calendar. We all may find one idea in common; this celebration is partly devoted to cleansing, renewal, more or less as we all think of the new year.

Fire crackers are lit up to let the fire cleanse all that is to be got rid of while incenses burn and religious dances are performed. Everyone dresses up in colorful, traditional wear to visit monasteries and make their offerings. One of the highlights of the festival are the artistic butter sculptures that bring luck to their new owners.

7| Guatemala

Photo © – Flickr

In the Central American country there are 20 different ethnic groups turning December into a colorful month festive filled with fun starting on the 7th December. At 6 pm, the celebrations begin with “The burning of the devil” cleanse by burning an effigy of the devil.

On the next day a meal is consumed, called the feast of the immaculate conception. The whole month is traditionally devoted to being around and with your family, to then on Christmas Eve have a festive meal with their loved ones. Everyone stays up till late as presents are exchanged after the fireworks and firecrackers are lit at midnight.

8| Colombia

Photo © – Flickr

Little Candles’ Day (Día de las Velitas) is one of the most magical events one can find around the world. Celebrated on the 7th December, it is the beginning of Christmas season in the country. Some may also have heard of this day being the day of immaculate conception.

Imagine the magical colors as candles in paper lanterns are lighting up the whole city as they are placed all over town, hanging out of windows. It is a truly magical night. Visit Quimbaya, where neighbourhoods famously compete to make the display more and more magical.

9| Hopi – Native American Tribe

The Hopi Native American Tribe of Arizona celebrate Soyal, the Winter Solstice Ceremony on the shortest day of the year. The ritual’s aim is to bring the Sun back from its long sleep and purify the tribe’s members.

It is the time of renewal while all the people, their homes, plants and all belongings are blessed so luck and health may follow in the welcomed new cycle of the Wheel of the Year.

During this ceremony, tribes open sacred underground ritual chambers so the Kachina (Sacred spirits that can be of ancestors, the Sun and even a concept) season. Kachina season is the first half of the year when they are believed to be visiting the tribe’s lands.

10| Norway

Photo © – Unsplesh

This list without a good witch-related tradition would not be complete. We don’t have look further than Norway. In some homes, people still hide their brooms to a safe spot in the house from evil spirits and witches that surface on this special evening.

There must be something in that centuries-old tradition; we still haven’t seen any witches flying through the moonlit sky, good job.

11| South-Korea

Photo © – Pixabay

Pyeongchang Trout Festival is one of the biggest and longest winter festivals in Asia. It is about a month long starting at the end of December. 

As the name suggests, the main attraction is trout fishing as the county features clear, cold waters making it one of the best Trout fishing areas in the world.

There is something to entertain everyone, so if you are not the fishing kind of person, go on to one of the activities such as sledding, ice skating and many more winter fun. If feeling strong and skilled, you cold try catching trouts barehanded as well. All the caught fish can be prepared straight away for you at the nearby restaurant.

12| Philippines

Photo © – Flickr

Winter is definitely not as cold in the Philippines as in Europe or North America and North Asia. The festivity of the period begins as early as September when you begin to see the traditional Parols displayed on the streets. Parols (also called Christmas lantern) are star-shaped frameworks, used to be made of bamboo or wood.

Nowadays you can see colorful pieces made of all sorts of materials, including plastic, glass and even flowers, which can be found in almost every households and businesses in the country. The main celebration is the Simbáng Gabi (usually from 16th to 24th December) gathering crowds at dawn every day for prayers.

Thank you for reading!