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Worldwide Christmas Traditions

Updated: Mar 12

Around the world, Christmas is on many minds and this year we're all looking forward to being with family and friends, making up for time lost due to the pandemic. What stops are you pulling out this year? I was talking to one friend and discovered that they cook twelve different dishes, each honouring one of the twelve apostles. As much I have travelled, I had never heard of this tradition. Some that you might have heard of is book gifting on Christmas Eve in Iceland and a firm favourite is popcorn threading in the U.S.A. Thank you to all my wonderful friends around the world for sharing what Christmas is like where they live. I couldn't have done it without you. I hope you enjoy reading and discovering more about worldwide Christmas traditions, as much as I have.

Christmas Gingerbread House ©MDHarding

Stringing popcorn - U.S.A

Large red bowl of popcorn spilling over and a piece of popcorn being threaded with needle and thread.
Stringing Popcorn ©Sara Hoffman at Major Hoff Takes A Wife

I only recently learned that stringing popcorn was a primarily American tradition. Let's face it, every Hallmark movie has a scene where the characters are doing just that. Maybe it's because I grew up in the midwest with corn fields everywhere but I certainly took it for granted.

Not only was this something you would do as a family while watching Christmas movies and sipping hot cocoa or eggnog, but it was also something we often did at school. It's inexpensive and you only need a sturdy pan to pop a large quantity up. A large stockpot works well because one cup of kernels pops up 32 cups of cooked popcorn!!! Some pieces do collapse and break with the needle. Others will succumb to the hungry mouths who can't resist the smell. Be prepared to make several pots full.

You'll need a medium-sized sharp needle and sturdy string. We try to use fishing line. Dental floss can work in a pinch, but fishing line is really the best. Nothing breaks a little child's heart like a popcorn string breaking and all their efforts on the floor, so take this tip to heart.

You can add in some cranberries for a pop of color, but beware, they do seep liquid and can stain your hands, so wear disposable gloves. I've also seen dried orange slices used in the past as well as cinnamon sticks.

When we were young, we'd place the plain popcorn out for the birds when we were done with it. Nowadays we've learned that it doesn't hurt them, but it also doesn't provide much nutritional value. If you have dyed your popcorn a festive color or put any flavoring on it, it is not recommended to share with your avian friends!

Hallmark movies make it seem like an idyllic scene, but with four boys in my house, it turned into more of a who can toss the popcorn in their mouth contest. Most of the time we just stick to sweet popcorn mixes on movie night. In the fall, popcorn balls are popular. They are simply packed rounds of popcorn that have been made sticky with a glaze and are about the size of a snowball. Most commonly the popcorn is smothered in ca