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Holiday Traditions from Around the World

Rebecca Sanders

READ TIME:2 min.

iFit loves being your part-trainer, part-travel-guide while you work out. Our trainers adore indulging in the sights and sounds of the locations they get to experience when they’re filming.

As your trainers research the countries and cities where they guide your workouts, they often discover unique traditions that encapsulate the essence, the passion, and the excitement that makes each culture unique.

We’ve gathered some of the most interesting holiday traditions of places our trainers have traveled to. Maybe try out a few, and you might discover a new tradition for you and your family this season!

Sour Grapes: Spain

New Year’s Eve in Spain is called Nochevieja, or “old night.” The largest celebration takes place in Madrid at the Puerta del Sol, while the rest of the country watches by television, much like Times Square in New York City. When the clock is about to strike midnight, everyone has 12 sour, green grapes ready to ring in the new year—one for every strike of the clock. If you can eat all 12 grapes before the clock strikes midnight, you’re guaranteed good fortune for the upcoming year!

Try biking in Spain.

13 Trolls: Iceland

Instead of Santa visiting children on Christmas Eve, in Iceland, 13 different trolls visit children for the 13 days leading up to Christmas. Children leave their shoes by the window each night in expectation of the gifts the trolls will leave them. Sometimes, they get sweets and toys, while other times, they might leave less desirable gifts, like rotten food. The trolls names range from “Door Slammer” or “Spoon Licker” and their personalities encapsulate their names.

Take a walk through Iceland!

Hogmanay: Scotland

New Year’s Eve is rife with the traditions of Hogmanay in Scotland. The first is “redding the house” with a thorough cleaning. It’s considered bad luck to start the new year with a dirty house. At midnight, bells, fireworks, and street parties can be heard and seen. Just after that, it’s traditional to stand in a circle, cross arms, and hold hands with the people on either side while singing “Auld Lang Syne,” the words of which were written by the famous Scottish poet Robert Burns.

Next comes the “First Foot” tradition: A dark male enters the household as the first foot over the threshold, bringing symbolic gifts like coal, shortbread, salt, black bun, and a wee dram of whisky. It is believed that the household will then be safe, warm, and have enough food for the year.

Hike your way through Scotland!

Summertime: Australia

Since the holidays are celebrated in the summer in the “Land Down Under,” Santa is often depicted wearing board shorts and riding a surfboard, instead of the traditional furry coat and hat. Many families ditch the turkey and dressing for a lunchtime prawn fest or barbecue. Often, charitable “Carols by Candlelight” concerts are held, featuring famous singers, while the proceeds go to those in need. Boxing Day, the day after Christmas, is also celebrated with a The Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race that begins in Sydney and ends in Hobart, Tasmania.

Go for an adventure run in Australia.

Be sure to check out our holiday drinks from around the world and try out a new recipe while you celebrate international traditions!

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