The Lufthansa Group winter flight schedule features 288 destinations in 106 countries. Some of them have remarkable Christmastime traditions.
In 1931, the cartoonist Haddon Sundblom created for The Coca-Cola Company what is presumably the world’s most recognizable Santa Claus: a friendly, big-bellied, white-bearded figure dressed in the red-and-white company colors.
Thanks to the Pope’s intervention, December 25 was reinstated as a public holiday in 1997. The most popular symbol of the season is a decorated plastic tree. Fun fact: Denmark is the world’s biggest exporter of real Christmas trees.
Thirteen different Santa figures called Jólasveinar – Yule lads – fill children’s shoes in the run-up to Christmas. The good children receive candy, the naughty ones, just a potato. The Jólasveinar are said to be the sons of trolls.
Is Queen Elizabeth I behind the Christmas goose? While tucking into the bird in 1588, she heard about England’s victory over the Spanish Armada and immediately proclaimed goose to be the new Christmas dinner.
Many German states grant a Christmas amnesty to prison inmates who are due to have served their sentence by the end of the old year or the beginning of the new, and release them a few days or even weeks earlier than scheduled.
Hot weather, shorts and absolutely no snow are on the menu here, along with the traditional braai barbecue, where meat takes pride of place. South Africans have braais often – also at Christmas, and preferably on the beach.
Banana plants and mango trees often take the place of the more traditional fir and spruce trees. Christians in the south place burning oil lamps on the flat roofs of their homes to represent Jesus as the light of the world.
Santa’s official hometown is Rovaniemi on the Arctic Circle. Eleanor Roosevelt, then First Lady of the United States, visited him there in 1950 and turned the town into an attraction. Santa Claus Village was built in her honor.
For Christmas, Italians often give each other red underwear or lingerie because “Il rosso porta bene” – red is a lucky color. Both men and women make a point of wearing it on December 30 to ring in the New Year.