Thrifty Thursday: Holiday Traditions Around the World

The Holiday Season is one of the most popular times to visit Walt Disney World, and it is easy to see why: with amazing light displays, moving and inspirational music, entertaining shows, festive decorations, and of course delicious treats, this is a season that is a true feast for the senses. And of course, no one prepares that kind of feast better than Disney! So clearly, for anyone who loves the Christmas Season and loves Disney, there is no better place to celebrate the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

With all of the festivities though, it is easy to overlook one of the most interesting Holiday events at Disney World: Epcot’s Festival of Holidays Storytellers. But you really shouldn’t! The Holiday Storytellers are a fascinating glimpse into how other cultures celebrate their special holidays…..and if you take the time to visit with them, you will be in for quite a treat! Entertaining and fun, learning about how others celebrate Christmas and other winter holidays is a wonderful way to add to your “Christmas Spirit”.

So let me briefly introduce you to a few of the Storytellers that you may meet on your Holiday stroll around the World…..

Norway: Sigrid and Julenissen

11224421_10156533500935508_6356200433129943236_nJulenissen is funny kind of elf who shares his story. In Norway, he lives in the woods, guarding each family. During the Christmas season, children leave bowls of porridge out to thank Julenissen for watching over them all year long.

Italy: La Befana

12307526_10156533500930508_799207825060010381_oI love the story of La Befana, who legend has it, was a poor, old woman who lived at the time of the birth of Jesus. After refusing to help the Shepherds and the Three Kings look for the newborn Baby, she eventually decided to look for him on her own. Sadly though, she became lost and never found him. She still looks for him to this day, visiting children’s homes in hopes of finding him, and leaving gifts for the children when she stops by.

Japan: Daruma Vendor

In Japan, a Daruma doll street vendor, shares the Japanese New Years tradition of the Daruma doll. During the New Year’s celebration, Daruma dolls are given as special gifts of encouragement in setting and achieving goals.

France: Pere Noel

Pere Noel is one of my favorite storytellers. He tells how he arrives to visit French children on Christmas Eve, of course, bringing gifts with him when he comes. Pere Noel also shares some of the letters that he receives from French children, and discusses some French Christmas customs that are familiar to many of us, including the crèche or nativity scene.

United Kingdom: Father Christmas                                                                  

You will find that Father Christmas, in the United Kingdom, is a jolly man in a white beard and green robe, and he too shares some Holiday customs that are familiar to us, including the origins of mistletoe…and how kissing came to be associated with it. 🙂

So there you have a brief overview of the Storytellers and their stories. Now for a few things to keep in mind as you plan your visit around the World. Each of the Storytellers is scheduled at several times each afternoon/early evening near their respective countries around World Showcase. The schedule you receive as you enter Epcot will note the times that each will be presenting. Each story lasts for about 15 minutes, and if you want to visit all of them, expect to spend 3-4 hours in order to make it all the way around the World. You will find that most Storyteller presentations are not especially crowded, so it is easy for children especially to be right up front to see…and hear…the entire story up close and personal, which you should encourage! And each Storyteller is always happy to stay afterwards for some pictures, so be sure to have your camera ready. 🙂

One of the reasons I have always loved World Showcase is the chance to travel “around the World” in a few hours, sampling the various countries’ food, folklore, customs, and culture. It’s fascinating and fun, and a great way for everyone….children especially….to learn a little about this great big world of ours. Visiting the Storytellers during the Holiday Season provides the perfect chance for the entire family to do this, learning to appreciate how we are different and yet in a special way….the same.

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2 Responses to Thrifty Thursday: Holiday Traditions Around the World

  1. Shepard C Willner says:

    All well and good, but what about the other countries in World Showcase, e.g., Mexico, the US, Canada, Morocco, China, and Germany? Let’s talk about Germany, whose people decorated their trees in a time that pre-dates Xmas. How about reciting the “The Night Before Christmas” poem at the US pavilion? Wasn’t that where the poem originated, or was the poem originally written in England? How about a tie-in to the new movie “The Man Who Invented Christmas”-is that a Disney movie? If so, how about a tie-in at the England pavilion with Ebenezer Scrooge, Bob Cratchit, Tiny Tim, the Ghosts, Fred Scrooge, etc., appearing near the shops and the Rose and Crown pub?

    • Nancy says:

      There are actually a number of other holiday related events happening this year in the other countries as Disney has greatly expanded Epcot’s Festival of Holidays. This article though was just about the Holiday Storytellers. 🙂

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