Christmas is one of the most widely celebrated traditions around the world but not everyone celebrates it the same. Here are some of the weirdest Christmas traditions.
1. Japan: Eating KFC on Christmas
Similar to turkey on Thanksgiving, the Japanese associate KFC with Christmas. The reason? A highly effective marketing campaign which ran in 1974. The people of Japan start booking takeout reservations in October to avoid 2 hour lines resulting in holiday sales being 5 times higher than any other month. Nice marketing KFC
2. Germany: The Christmas Tree Pickle
In Germany, a tradition called “Weihnachtsgurke” involves hiding a pickle in the Christmas tree. On Christmas morning the whole family rushes down and searches for the pickle deep within the branches. The first person to find it gets a special present! No one is sure of the origin of this tradition but it is practiced in many German homes today.
3. Caracas, Venezuela: Rollerblading to Church
This tradition starts on the night of Christmas eve, where children tie one end of a string to their big toe and dangle the other outside their window low enough to reach the street. The morning of Christmas day, streets are closed off for early morning mass and churchgoers rollerblade to mass, pulling on any strings they see dangling from windows.
4. Ukraine: Decorating with Spiderwebs
In Ukraine, spiders and their webs represent good luck due to an old, well-known legend.
The story goes that there lived a poor, widow in a cramped hut with her children. One day, a pine cone dropped and started growing outside the hut. The children tended to it lovingly until it grew into an extravagant tree.
Knowing they did not have money to decorate the tree for Christmas, the family accepted the fact and went to sleep. Overnight the spiders heard the children crying and spun intricate webs on the tree.
In the light of the morning, the threads shone silver and gold making the tree beautiful. To this day, Ukrainians decorate their trees with fake spider webs to celebrate the Christmas miracle.
5. Catalonia, Spain: “The Pooping Log”
Meet “Caga Tio”, (the pooping log) a friendly, hollowed out piece of wood lovingly placed in homes on December 8th. This unique artefact is covered with a blanket, placed near the fireplace and treated as a pet.
The children feed the log every night in hopes it will grow bigger and loving parents swap out the log to a bigger one overnight. On Christmas Day, the children gather around the log and sing songs to encourage it to defecate while hitting it with sticks. The log then “releases” it’s loot which often includes candy, small toys and coins.
6. Sweden: Burning a 13 metre Goat
Since 1966, the town has followed the tradition of erecting a 13 metre goat made of straw in the town centre of Gavle. Every since then, it has been the quest of vandals to burn it down.
By 2011, the goat has been successfully burned down 25 times, in fact, this happened so often the locals started placing bets on the goat’s survival. Seems there’s something irresistible about burning a statue made entirely of straw.
7. India: Decorating Banana and Mango Trees
Over 25 million people celebrate Christmas in India, which is approximately 2.5% of the population. The tradition of mass, gift giving and decorating the Christmas tree is still practised. Due to the lack of pine trees available in India, the locals decorate mango and banana trees instead.
8. Iraq: Jumping Over Burnt Thorns
This age old tradition starts on Christmas Eve with the children reading the story of Jesus to the family. The family, holding candles, wait for the story to finish and then promptly light a pile of thrones while signing hymns. When the thrones turn to ashes, each family member must jump over the pile 3 times to make a Christmas wish. This ritual is said to predict the future, depending on how the thorns are burned.
9. Norway: Hiding Brooms on Christmas Eve
Norwegians like to take extra precautions around the Christmas period, especially Christmas Eve. In the old tradition, it is believed that evil spirits come out to taunt the living and witches search for brooms in people’s homes. To prevent this, Norwegian women hide all the brooms and mops in the house, while the men fire several shots into the night sky to scare the sprits.
10. Czech Republic, Slovakia: Predicting Marriage with Shoes
Want to know if you’ll get married? In Czech Republic, Christmas Day is the perfect time to find out. The tradition requires the wearer to face their back to a door and throw one of their shoes over their shoulder. If the toe faces the door they will get married. The how, who and when is unfortunately not disclosed.
No matter how you celebrate Christmas, it is as great time to spend with family, swap presents and recharge for the new year. Going away this Christmas? Check out the top 10 safest countries in the world . Is your Christmas destination on the list?