This year some of our Advent Calendars have taken on a global feel, so here are some fun festive facts about Christmas around the world…
French bon bon sweets were actually the inspiration behind the Christmas cracker, because inventor Tom Smith liked the way they were wrapped. Then, one night by the fire he heard a cracking sound and had his eureka moment - and over 200 years later this British Christmas tradition is still a cracking (sorry) one…
Shouts of ‘he’s behind you!’ and ‘oh no it isn’t!’ can be heard in British theatres over Christmas as pantomime season takes place. Fairy tales are retold through song and dance, with the odd panto horse thrown in for good measure. Celebrities are usually the stars of the show and although other countries have now imported the panto, it’s seen as a quintessentially British tradition.
Find out where you can get our Gin Advent Calendar here
Hogmanay, Scotland’s New Year’s Eve celebrations sees the tradition of ‘first footing’ taking place. Supposedly, the first foot in the house after midnight should belong to a dark-haired male carrying a dram of whisky to bring good luck for the year ahead. Kit Harrington, where are you?
Christmas was actually banned in Scotland in 1640 for 400 years and was only lifted in 1958 when it became a public holiday. Boxing Day wasn’t a public holiday until 1974. That’s a lot of Christmas presents to catch up on…
Find out where you can get our Scotch Advent Calendar here
Reindeer, candy canes and glittering baubles are the standard tree decorations we all know and love - but how about a festive pickle? In America, legend has it a soldier who was captured during the American Civil War begged for a pickle when he was starving and it saved his life. So now Americans hide a decorative pickle on their trees and the person who discovers said pickle is destined to a year of good fortune.
The biggest Christmas present in the world was bestowed on the USA on 1886 when the French gifted them the Statue of Liberty. Weighing in at a hefty 225 tonnes and standing at 151 ft tall, it doesn’t bear thinking about how much wrapping paper was used…
Imagine if Rudolph’s name was Reginald. Or Rollo. That’s what nearly happened - the character was created by writer Robert L. May for department store Montgomery Ward’s colouring books, but they weren’t keen on the name Rudolph, and also didn’t want the reindeer to have a red nose because having a bright red nose was synonymous with being drunk. Luckily Robert May argued his case - Reginald the blue-nosed reindeer doesn’t really have the same ring…
Find out where you can buy our Bourbon Advent Calendar here
In Puerto Rico on New Year’s Eve when the clock strikes midnight, it’s traditional to eat a grape on each chime for good luck, and if you manage to eat all 12 grapes you’ll have a prosperous year ahead. Sadly, drinking wine doesn’t count.
A favourite Saint Lucian Christmas tradition is bamboo bursting, which involves the making of homemade fireworks from hollow bamboo canes. In the nights leading up to Christmas, the booms of exploding bamboo stalks can be heard on village streets.
Across many of the Caribbean islands, spring cleaning ahead of Christmas is the tradition - people paint their houses, hang new curtains and buy new furniture. Nothing like getting those resolutions started early!
Find out where you can buy our Rum Advent Calendar here
In Mexico, carving figurines out of radishes and then putting them on display is an actual thing in the city of Oaxaca. On December 23rd, Noche de Rábanos (night of the radishes) takes place, where people queue for hours to get a glimpse at the vegetables - which have been carved to depict anything from the nativity scene to animals. The winner of the best carved radish walks away with 12,000 pesos though (nearly £500) - not bad for sprucing up a salad.
January 6th is when Mexicans eat Rosca de Reyes - a sweet, ring-shaped bread, covered with jellied sweets. So far so delicious, but there’s a twist - inside is also a tiny figurine of the baby Jesus. The person who discovers it (hopefully not by swallowing it), must hold a tamale (a traditional Mexican dish) party on February 2.
Find out where you can buy our Tequila Advent Calendar here