Winter Holiday Traditions of Royal Families Around The World
1/12 House of Grimaldi
Prince Albert II and his wife, Princess Charlene, annually open the doors of the Prince's Palace of Monaco to children every Christmas. This tradition began with the late Princess of Monaco Grace Kelly (the current reigning monarch's much-loved mother) when she was then trying to gain the approval and support of the people of Monaco. Every Christmas, each child receives a unique gift from the Prince and Princess, together with a dressed-up Santa Claus. Last year, French magician champion, Triton, performed in the Throne Room and entertained the young guests. What surprise awaits guests this year?
2/12 The Liechtenstein Ladies
As the Principality of Liechtenstein observes agnatic primogeniture for its monarchy, men in the ruling family have more responsibilities to attend to especially His Serene Highness Prince Hans-Adam II. Meanwhile, the ladies of Liechtenstein like Princess Marie and the Hereditary Princess Sophie can be seen visiting hospitals and retirement homes throughout the country before Christmas Day.
3/12 The Wangchuk Dynasty
Bhutan's National Day falls on the 17th of December and is respectfully observed every year where the Druk Gyalpo ("Dragon King") Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuk gives his nation's address and participates with the solemn ceremonies. Another festival that comes with the winter season is the country's winter solstice festival known as Nyilo. The Bhutanese people believe that errors of the past can be erased and the karmic consequences of doing good deeds can multiply with the Nyilo celebrations. It is considered a sacred day and is followed by Lolay, a celebratory practice where children play an important part. The King and Queen take part in these festivities by welcoming children to their home and letting them do the traditional singing of ancient verses in observance of the holiday's tradition.
4/12 House of Glücksburg, Norway
Christmas time is family time in Norway and the Norwegian's royal family celebrates this joyous season intimately. In previous years, King Harald V and Queen Sonja together with their children, spend Christmas Day on holiday trips, either with Prince Haakon or Princess Märtha Louise. Like other European royals, they also annually release their Christmas family photo, sending holiday greeting across the country.
Historically, yuletide traditions (which later became associated with Christmas) began in countries of Germanic heritage. Santa Claus, carol singing, presents under the tree, holly and mistletoe, yew branches hanged from the ceiling, and more until it was introduced in the United Kingdom by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. These traditions are also observed by the royal family, most especially the exchange of gifts.
Having mentioned gifts, Norway annually sends a giant Christmas Tree to the United Kingdom as a token of gratitude for the assistance of the British people to Norway during the Second World War.
5/12 Swedish Royal House of Bernadotte
As Queen Silvia's birthday falls on December 23, she takes the spotlight in the Swedish royal household every Christmas. Hence every feast on Christmas Eve, her favourite loaf-shaped fruitcake Weihnachtsstollen is always on the dining table. Also part of the feast are Crown Princess Victoria's favourite lutefisk, a dried whitefish in lye and Princess Margaret's much-craved lobsters and oysters.
6/12 Dutch Royal Family of the Netherlands
Christmas is celebrated early in The Netherlands as the Feast of St. Nicholas is observed on the 5th of December with exchange of gifts, drinking hot chocolate, and eating delightful confections. Apparently the feast of Sinterklaas, of which St. Nicholas is known in The Netherlands, inspired the figure of Santa Claus. And in this celebration, the royal family is very much involved. With the current queen being originally from Argentina, the royal family takes trips to South America during winter to celebrate with her family.
7/12 House of Bourbon
King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia showcase the beauty of Spain through their beautiful Christmas cards each year, which also features their beautiful daughters. Moreover, King Felipe VI broadcasts his Christmas message each year like the other royals. Intimate family celebrations during this season happen near the birthday of the former king, Juan Carlos.
8/12 House of Glücksburg, Denmark
Instead of sending her message of hope for the coming year and matters to ponder on Christmas Day, Queen Margrethe II of Denmark addresses the nation on New Year's Eve. She then throws a royal ball at the Palace at Amalienborg. The 2019 ball was a mix of revelry and melancholia as it was the first ball without Prince Henrik of Denmark, husband of the queen, who passed away in February of 2018. But preparations for the 2020 ball is on the way and we already have a peek of the Queen's cupboard where boxes and baskets are ready for packaging. How organised!
9/12 House of Nassau-Welburg
With the royal family of Luxembourg being large in number, we . can expect exuberant festivities in the Grand Ducal Palace. On Christmas Eve, the Grand Dulk Henri of Luxembourg addresses the people by television, and attends the Christmas Eve Mass at the Notré Dame Cathedral. Luxembourg is also a must-see destination during this season as they put up an hourly tree light show that fabulously illuminates the city.
10/12 House of Belgium
A few days before Christmas Day, the royal family with select guests and family are dressed to the nines for the annual holiday gala concert at the Royal Palace. King Philippe and Queen Mathilde are known to be staunch supporters of culture and the arts and so the annual gala is indeed of high importance. The Belgians also enjoy the concert as it is broadcasted on national television.
11/12 Yamato Dynasty
The blossoming Reiwa era of Emperor Naruhito, who ascended to the throne early this year, is marked by peace and tranquility and much hope towards further technological advancement. On January 1st of 2020, the Emperor and his wife Empress Masako will receive greetings from the members of the imperial family and parliament. On the following day, the people of Japan are invited to visit Their Majesties at the Imperial Palace to express their greetings of joy and good wishes. Likewise, the Emperor is expected to speak about the goals Japan must achieve in the upcoming year.
12/12 House of Hashim
Every New Year, the royal family of Jordan get involved in tree-planting ceremonies during the Arbor Day every January 15, an international holiday observed as well in other countries where protection of the environment is highlighted and everyone is encouraged to partake. What an altruistic way to kick off the year!