Christmas is the most celebrated holiday of the year, but every country does it differently. Here’s a quick insight into the weird and wonderful Christmas traditions from around the globe.
According to the encyclopaedia Britannica, December 25th (‘mass on Christ’s day) was first recognised as the birth of Jesus in the year 221, but only began to be celebrated widely in the 9th century. Now it is one of the most popular holidays with over 2 billion people considering it to be the most important holiday of the year.
A typical Australian Christmas is hot, with BBQ’s and Carols by Candlelight a staple. Most Australians and Americans open gifts on Christmas day, whereas most places in Europe share presents on Christmas Eve. Here’s a look into other countries around the world and the quirky ways they celebrate Christmas.
Japan – Fried chicken
Japan is less than one percent Christian, but one tradition that has stuck is eating KFC or other fried chicken on Christmas, with more than 4 million people tucking into the finger lickin’ food on this day each year. This unusual tradition began after a successful marketing campaign by KFC in 1974 called Kurisumasi ni wa kentakkii! (Kentucky for Christmas!).
Ukraine – Spiderwebs on Christmas trees
In Ukraine, families decorate their Christmas tree with spiderwebs as a sign of good luck. It is based on old folklore about a family who couldn’t afford ornaments and decorations for their tree, and spiderwebs became a symbol of good fortune on Christmas. It is also tradition to have 12 course feasts, one for every apostle!
Slovakia – Carp catching
In one of the most interesting Christmas traditions, Slovakians catch carp and keep them in a bathtub of freshwater swimming until Christmas Eve and eaten for their dinner feast. The significance of the Carp is in its scales. They are said to bring good luck and fortune into the new year.
Iceland – 13 Yule Lads
Instead of Santa, Icelandic children are visited by the 13 Yule Lads in the 13 nights leading up to Christmas. Children leave their shoes by a window and the Yule trolls leave gifts and sweets for nice boys and girls and rotten potatoes for the misbehaved!
Sweden – Saint Lucia and the giant goat
In Sweden the Christmas celebrations begin on December 13, marked by Saint Lucia’s Day and a festival to celebrate light. In the night parade, one girl is selected as ‘Lucia’, the Christian saint, and leads a procession of people wearing white robes and carrying candles above their head along with star-headed wands.
In the Swedish city of Gävle, a 13-metre-high straw goat is put up in the city centre to mark the start of Advent. The first Yule Goat was erected in 1966 and burnt down on New Year’s Eve. The tradition has lasted but is a big target for vandals, the most recent goat to be incinerated was the 2016 mascot.
Norway – Hiding brooms
The legend in Norway is that witches will arrive on Christmas Eve. Norwegians hide their brooms in the safest room in their house on this night in the hopes of fending off evil and dark spirits the witches might bring.
Venezuela – Rollerblading Santas
In Caracas, the capital city of Venezuela, the streets are closed on Christmas morning so that citizens can roller skate to church services. They are guided along by fireworks and skaters dressed up as Santas and other Christmas related costumes!
Spain – Caga Tió
In the Spanish region of Catalonia, the Caga Tió (Pooping log) or Tió de Nadal (Christmas Log) arrives in early December to mark the Christmas season. This large log is decorated with Christmas hats and facial features and as far as the name goes, it ‘poops’ out presents when children hit it with a stick, singing the traditional Caga Tió song!