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Holiday Traditions Around the World

This year at Rustico, we’re looking to international cultures to enrich our idea of a happy holiday season. In our search, we’ve arrived in Denmark and their tradition of Hygge. Pronounced “hoo-ga”, it’s derived from a Norwegian word for “well-being” and roughly translates to snug and cozy.

Hygge is a part of Danish culture; in fact, it has been said to define Danish culture. Denmark has been called the happiest country in the world, and people believe it has to do with this concept. It's a concept recently adopted by the rest of the world, especially around the holidays.

“Cozy”, “warm”, “personal”, “simple”, and “rustic”, are all words that can be used to describe a Hygge Christmas. Candles that carry a soothing holiday scent, and preferably a few of them. Fireplaces that crackle and flicker on a cold winter night. Throw blankets, homemade treats, comfort food, and a steaming cup of cocoa also make up this holiday. Fresh holiday smells also set the mood for a cozy Christmas.

The Christmas caroling we do today was a tradition believed to be started in England. To spread the feeling of peace on earth and holiday joy, a group of carolers would go door-to-door singing carols, hoping to warm the hearts of friends and neighbors. 

Another international tradition we love is from Iceland, called “Jolabokaflod” which translates to “Christmas book flood.” Everyone gives a gift on Christmas Eve of a good book. Each person comes prepared with a favorite story or a tale that they want to share. Once the books are exchanged, they stay up late into the night reading by the fire and enjoying quiet books with one another. Can the holidays get cozier than that?

Many American families have adopted a similar tradition as far as being cozy goes on Christmas Eve. Perhaps your family exchanges pajamas like some of ours do. Though it is a simple gift exchange and hardly a surprise, it is treasured because of the memories it evokes.


The ideal way to spend the holidays is sharing joy and comfort to those we come in contact with. This is what the holidays should be centered around.