With the holiday season right around the corner, it’s time to learn about some of the weirdest and wackiest Christmas traditions from around the world. From hiding brooms to eating KFC, these customs will definitely surprise you. Whether you’re looking for inspiration to start a new tradition in your own home or just want to learn something new, read on to discover ten bizarre Christmas traditions worldwide.
Norway/Iceland – Hide Brooms
People in Iceland and Norway have a tradition of hiding all brooms on Christmas Eve so that mischievous spirits can’t come and steal them away. According to legend, witches and evil spirits come out on Christmas Eve to do some mischief. One way of preventing this is by hiding the brooms.
Ukraine – Decorate Trees with Spiderwebs
Ukrainians decorate their Christmas trees with spiderwebs to bring good luck and fortune. According to legend, a widow and her children found a Christmas tree in their garden but didn’t have money to decorate it. The mother hung some fruits and nuts on the tree, hoping it would make her kids smile on Christmas day. However, when they woke up the next morning, it was covered by a spider’s web, which turned into bright silver and gold in the morning light.
Japan – Eat KFC on Christmas
Christmas is not a national holiday in Japan, so it’s no big deal to this country’s residents, but they have one unusual tradition on Christmas Eve. They all flock to KFC! Christmas is one of the year’s busiest days for the fast-food chain.
Spain – “El Caganer” Figure
In the Catalan region of Spain, it’s customary to add a “caganer” figurine to your nativity scene, tucked away from the manger. This figure is literally a man taking a poop. The origin has been lost, but some experts think that the figure may even have originated from ancient fertility rituals, while others suggest that it was the people’s way of rebelling against the church’s strict rules and authority in what was then turning out to be a more secular population.
Mexico – Night of the Radishes
In Oaxaca, Mexico, December 23 marks La Noche de Rabanos (“The Night of the Radishes”). It is a vegetable carving competition between artists who use radishes to make sculptures. The festival starts on the 23rd in the morning, but you must wait until night to see the winner and finished masterpieces. The radish carvings are sold as Christmas centerpieces.
Guatemala – Dia Del Diablo
While this unusual event happens on December 7th, it’s a crucial part of celebrations for Guatemalans in the month of December leading up to the new year. The burning of the devil is a magical-religious celebration. Its origin dates back to the 16th century as a preamble to the festivities of the birth of Christ, representing the triumph of good over evil. Devils are prepared by the locals and can stand up to 10ft tall or higher. They are filled with firecrackers, and at 6 pm on December 7th, they are set aflame.
Austria – Krampus
In central European popular legend, Krampus is a half-goat, half-demon monster that punishes misbehaving children at Christmastime. He is the devilish companion of St. Nicholas. Krampus is believed to have originated in Germany, and his name derives from the German word Krampen, which means “claw.” While St. Nicholas rewards nice children by leaving presents, Krampus beats those who are naughty with branches and sticks. In some cases, he is said to eat them or take them to hell.
Venezuela – Roller Skating
In Caracas, the capital of Venezuela, the residents head to church on roller skates for mass each Christmas morning. These Christmas traditions and customs are so popular that the city’s streets are closed to traffic so that people can skate to churches safely. Many Venezuelans believe that roller skating to church helps them connect with their faith, commemorating the journey of Joseph and Mary. The festive atmosphere created by this activity contributes to a sense of unity in the community.
Czech Republic – Throwing Shoes
In the Czech Republic, unmarried women predict their future love life by throwing shoes over their shoulders. If the shoe lands with its toe towards the door, she will get married in the following year. However, if the heel points toward the door, she’ll remain single.
Sweden – Yule Goat
In Sweden, people believed the Yule goat to be an invisible spirit that would appear before Christmas to make sure that the holiday preparations were done correctly. The Yule goat’s origins go back to ancient Pagan festivals. During the 19th century, the Yule goat’s role all over Scandinavia shifted towards becoming the Christmas gift-bringer and is sometimes seen in place of or alongside Santa, who is called Jultomten, with one of the men in the family dressing up as the Yule goat
Christmas is truly a time of celebration and joy, and these traditions from around the world add an exciting and unique twist to the holiday season. Whether it’s eating KFC in Japan or burning devils in Guatemala, these unusual traditions serve as an important reminder that Christmas is a time to embrace and celebrate the diversity of cultures around the world.
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