Cultural Holiday Traditions Around the World
Updated: Oct 4
Here in the USA we have Santa Claus, Thanksgiving, Eggnog and exterior home decorations and so much more to celebrate the holiday season. Countries around the world have their own festive traditions embedded into their culture for a joyful holiday season.
St. Nicholas Day — Switzerland
Each year on December 6, Swiss families celebrate St. Nicholas Day, where St. Nicholas the Patron Saint of Children comes for visit. Towns throughout the country have their very own St. Nicholas, dressed in bishop's robes with a staff, hand out treats such as chocolates, peanuts and fruit to the children, who are encouraged to recite a poem or sing a song. Bakeries also bake and sell a traditional Grittibänz, a pastry shaped like a man made from leavened dough and raisins, to add to the festivities on this day.
The Tschuggen Grand Hotel makes for a charming Swiss mountain getaway during the holiday season. Nestled in the Alpine region of Arosa at 5,900 feet, the property is a contemporary fairytale style venue, complete with the Tschuggen Express, a private cable car giving hotel guests exclusive access to the mountains, iconic 54,000 square foot Mario Botta-designed Tschuggen Bergoase Spa and four outstanding restaurants, where travelers can enjoy the traditional Swiss festivities in style.
El Pase del Niño — Ecuador
The colonial city of Cuenca, Ecuador is known for its yearly Christmas celebrations and traditions particularly El Pase del Niño, a pageant that occurs in the streets between mid-december and Christmas Eve. Boasting music, singing and dancing to celebrate the birth of Jesus, the procession includes statues of baby Jesus to represent the journey Mary and Joseph took on their way to Bethlehem. Cuenca's El Pase del Niño is the largest in Latin America and the city welcomes people from all over the country to celebrate.
Quasar Expeditions, a leader in experiential travel in Latin America, offers unforgettable tours and excursions throughout Cuenca, inviting guests to experience the holiday festivities in person. Travelers can spend their days exploring the city with stays and meals at the most well-known hotels and restaurants in town for an authentic Ecuadorian Christmas.
Boxing Day — England
Celebrated the day after Christmas on December 26, Boxing Day is a tradition that is recognized throughout the UK and originated as a day to give money and gifts to those in need or in service positions. Today, Boxing Day has become a major shipping and sporting holiday, with many people attending horse racing and fox hunting as a yearly tradition.
Located in London's West End, the Academy Hotel is the perfect spot for a charming holiday getaway. The property is inspired by the rich literary history of its Bloomsbury neighborhood and offers access to everything in the city, from shopping to sports, theater and more, for guests to experience Boxing Day like a true Londoner.
Dia De Los Reyes & Cabalgata de Reyes — Spain
In Spain, Three Kings Day or Dia De Los Reyes is one of the most celebrated festivals in the country. Children of Spain write letters to the Three Kings, or Three Wise Men, who then bring the children gifts the night before, or on the morning of the Epiphany, January 6th. In some houses children leave their shoes outside the door so that the Three Kings will fill them with gifts, often leaving bigger presents alongside. In Barcelona, Three Kings Day is held each year on January 5, commencing with the much-anticipated arrival of the three wise men known as Melchor, Gaspar and Baltasar. This popular trio generally arrives on a large boat that docks in Port Vell, and they are properly greeted by the city mayor before the start of the three-hour parade, known as the Procession of the Kings or Cabalgata de Reyes, through the city. The parade overflows with candy and also features live music, dancing, creative floats, and impressively designed costumes.
After a fun day of the Cabalgata de Reyes, Hotel Arts Barcelona is an excellent space to retreat and unwind for families. Hotel Arts Barcelona is an urban, waterfront retreat where exclusive Mediterranean lifestyle meets ultra-stylish design, offering a number of onsite gourmet restaurants, a spa, two pools, peaceful gardens and terraces, and the most stunning views of the city and spa. Hotel Arts Barcelona has excellent experiences for family stays, including luxury duplex penthouses ranging from 1-3 bedrooms on the top floors of the hotel. Each penthouse comes complete with a living room, kitchen, en-suite bathrooms for each bedroom, and guest bathrooms. Hotel Arts also offers the Ritz Kids® program, which introduces young guests to Barcelona and encourages them explore both the hotel and the city. The Ritz Kids® program offers special children’s menus and drawing books in every restaurant, in-room amenities such as colorful balloons and sweets, a large selection of fruits, chocolate, and sweets in the Club Lounge for Club Level guests, and a playful questionnaire upon check-in, which can be completed and turned in to receive a complimentary milkshake or ice cream.
Père Fouettard — France
St. Nicholas means helper who gives away coal to naughty children, Père Fouettard has existed across Europe and in France since the 11th century. Always carrying a bucket of coal for naughty children, Père Fouettard accompanies St. Nicholas on Christmas trips, his punishment for being unjustly mean to undeserving children for thousands of years!
Nice children can avoid Père Fouettard at Maisons Pariente property, Hôtel Le Coucou located in Meribel in heart of the French Alps. Perched on the heights of Belvédère, right next to the slopes and rubbing shoulders with the snowcapped summits, the hotel overlooks the the entire valley providing stunning views. The elegant five-star hotel offers two separate private chalets along with the spacious suites and rooms of the hotel. The two, four-bedroom ski-in ski-out luxury chalets are available for families and groups as a perfect home away from home, while also providing the same services and amenities Le Coucou has on offer. Each chalet also features a private ski room, indoor pool and private spa to welcome skiers each evening to ensure they are fully rested for another memorable day on piste.
Hanukkah – Jerusalem, Israel
For those travelers looking to embrace Judaism during the holiday season, celebrating Hanukkah in the holy land provides a sense of belonging that many travelers may not feel elsewhere. The eight-day festival of light in Israel is an important and iconic festival, where the holiday spirit can be felt throughout the country, if not clearly visible in the streets of Israel. Whether you’re attending a menorah lighting at the Western Wall, stuffing your face with Sufganiyot and Latkes or joining special Hanukkah tours it’s impossible to miss the holiday spirit felt around the country.
For travelers looking to be near all the action, ThirdHome’s Modern Luxury Apartment in the Center of Jerusalem is in a great location overlooking the colorful Ben Yehuda pedestrian street, Close to Jaffa Street, the light rail, the famous Mahane Yehuda market and the picturesque Nahalat Shiva neighborhood. Furnished to a high standard – this luxurious apartment is suitable for 5 guests and includes a cozy balcony so you can overlook all the action.
As a premier luxury property and travel club THIRDHOME was originally a private club for second homeowners to trade time in their home for stays in other members’ homes. In 2018 the club expanded into luxury Rentals to make desirable homes such as this available to the general public.