Pop into a military family’s home in North Carolina and you might find origami cranes on the tree and stollen sharing space with a nice bottle of California red wine on the table.
Military families are sent all over the country and around the world. Along the way, we mix a few local holiday traditions into our family celebrations.
So pop a Christmas cracker, light the Advent wreath and deck the halls this season with holiday traditions around the world!
Holiday Traditions Around the World that MilFams Love
With military families celebrating around the country and across the globe, we’ve picked out a few unique and special traditions that we love.
This is a German tradition originally but has definitely spread around the world. Advent wreaths use winter greens, like pine boughs, and candles.
Place four candles into the circle of pine branches. Light one candle each Sunday leading up to Christmas so that by Christmas day all four candles will be lit!
Japanese Christmas Cake
Following World War II, this decadent whip cream-filled cake became popular to show how Japan rebuilt from almost nothing.
Today, you can buy a yummy “kurisumasu keki” all over Japan. You’ll love the perfect strawberries on top along with the kawaii (cute) candy decorations.
Say “Merry Christmas” with a pop with this tradition from the UK! Set a cracker beside each table setting or leave a big basket out on the coffee table.
Guests pull both ends of the cracker, a paper tube with treats inside, which opens with a bang. Inside the cracker are candies and paper hats, plus other small toys and surprises.
Nothing says Christmas in Hawaii like a big, community luau and pig roast! Sway to island music and greet each guest with a lei.
Whether you are enjoying a day of tropical sunshine or sitting in a few feet of snow, your Christmas will be merry and bright.
Smoked Christmas Ham
Set your holiday table with a delicious Southern-smoked ham from Virginia or Tennessee! This tradition from the southern United States is a classic.
US-based families can keep the flavors of the South on their holiday table no matter where they live. Many top ham companies will ship throughout the lower 48!
No one is quite sure where this tradition comes from, but it is definitely connected to German blown glass ornaments. Pick up your own pickle Christmas ornament in Europe, or anywhere really.
On Christmas Even hide the pickle in your tree. In the morning, the first child to find the pickle gets a “bonus” gift!
KFC for Christmas
You won’t find a turkey or even a nice honey ham on Japanese Christmas tables. Instead, you’ll find a big bucket of the Colonel’s special recipe chicken!
KFC meals are a huge Japanese holiday tradition. With several packages to choose from, ordering begins about a month before Christmas. You could even grab a meal complete with cake and sparkling wine!
St. Nicholas Day
For kids around Europe, especially in Germany, December 6 is one of the hallmarks of the holiday season. If you celebrate St. Nicholas Day, your own kids might have a hard time sleeping on December 5!
Set our your child’s shoes for St. Nick to fill with toys and small treats for good girls and boys. This sweet holiday is a great way to kick off the holiday season, celebrating giving to others!
Mince Pies & Figgy Pudding
Enjoy these festive British treats to get into the spirit of the season!
Mince pies have a variety of fillings, with fruit, meat, and spices in the mix. The recipe has shifted over the centuries, with many families creating their own unique twists on tradition.
Figgy pudding is a fruit-filled, booze-soaked cake. This is definitely an adults-only treat from the UK!
Many European countries, including Germany, celebrate the Feast of the Epiphany, or Twelfth Night, on January 6. There are some connections to Christian stories, including the celebration of the three kings who visited Jesus.
It is also a great reason to prolong the holiday festivities with parties and good times! Gather together with family and friends for a night of celebrating.
St. Nick might show up on a surfboard in SoCal or an outrigger in Hawaii! Many local holiday decorations feature the man in red sporting a festive Hawaiian print shirt and hanging ten.
Pick up your own local Santa figure to display at your home during the holidays!