Decorating your Christmas tree, making gingerbread houses, baking holiday cookies, and opening Christmas presents, are some of the Christmas traditions followed in the United States. But have you ever wondered what are the Christmas traditions around the world?
Christmas is celebrated in many countries, and some of them have really wonderful, sometimes strange but interesting traditions. Well, scroll down to see yourself!
1. Krampus The Bad Santa: Austria
British kids are well acquainted with Father Christmas, Santa Claus, or Saint Nick, but they can consider themselves lucky if they don’t live in Austria. Austria has a legend that a devil-like creature called Krampus joins their St. Nicholas festivities on December 6. The evil accomplice of St Nicholas is said to wander the streets in search of badly-behaved children. Children are asked for a list of their good and bad deeds: Good children are rewarded with sweets, apples, and nuts, and bad children worry what Krampus might bring on Christmas morning.
2. Yule Goat: Sweden
If you ever visit Sweden during Christmas, make sure to go to the city of Gävle where you can see a huge goat made of straw standing at Slottstorget (Castle Square).
Originally part of a winter celebration called Juleoffer or “Yule Sacrifice,” the Yule Goat was represented by a man dressed in goatskins, carrying a goat’s head effigy. At the end of the day, the Yule Goat would be “killed” but, like Tanngrisnir and Tanngnjóstr, would rise from the dead as the Yule sun rose in the sky. Today, the Yule Goat is remembered in ornament form. Made of straw and decorated with red ribbon, Yule Goats are hung on Christmas trees or placed under them.
3. 12 Pubs Of Christmas: Ireland
In Ireland, there is a tradition known as the 12 pubs of Christmas. A spin on the 12 days of Christmas the celebration involves 12 pubs, a group of friends, lots of drink, and a set of madcap rules. You must go to 12 different pubs in one night, and having one drink(most commonly a pint of beer) in each pub. The rules of the 12 pubs go like this: No drinking with your right hand in the first pub. No pointing at people in the second pub, no talking to anyone you know in the third pub, no sitting, resting, or leaning in the fourth pub, no using the restroom in the fifth pub … and so on and so forth
4. Food For The Dead: Portugal
The Portuguese enjoy an additional feast, called Consoada, in the early morning hours of Christmas Day. They set extra places at the table for “alminhas a penar “the souls of the dead.
In some areas crumbs are left on the hearth for these souls, a custom that derives from the ancient practice of entrusting seeds to the dead in hopes that they will provide a bountiful harvest.
5. Eating Fried Caterpillars: South Africa
French fries? Yorkshire puddings? Gravy? South Africans have little time for such gewgaw, instead, they opt for caterpillars. Yes, caterpillars! They eat fried Emperor Moth caterpillars as a part of their holiday feast. This insect is a great source of protein for them and are harvested right around Christmas time and are preserved, to be consumed throughout the winter. But around Christmastime, they are fresh and fried up as part of their Christmas celebrations.
6. Horse Skull: Wales
Mari Lwyd, a somewhat surreal winter tradition from Wales, actually predates Christmas and comes from the country’s pagan history. Mari Lwyd means “gray mare” in English. This tradition is is most keenly observed in the town of Llangynwyd, near Maesteg, on New Year’s Day.
The Mari Lwyd party (people carrying the horse) would approach any house and sing a song in which they will request to enter the house. The inhabitants of the house would then offer excuses for why the team could not enter. The party would sing a second verse, and the debate between the two sides – known as the ‘pwnco‘ – would continue until the house’s inhabitants ran out of ideas, at which time they were obliged to allow the party entry and to provide them with ale and food.
Not strange enough for you? How about the fact that the horse is represented by a real horse’s skull on a stick?
7. Shoe Tossing For A Husband: Czech Republic
In the Czech Republic, single women are supposed to throw a shoe over their shoulder towards the door. If the point of the shoe faces the door, it means the woman will get married in the coming year if not then they have to wait for another 12 months for a husband.
According to folk tales, all women should get a kiss under the mistletoe during Christmas in order to be guaranteed a successful love life throughout the next calendar year. Weird but fascinating!
8. Spider’s Web Christmas Tree: Ukraine
Rather than being decorated with tinsel and baubles, a Christmas tree in Ukraine is decorated with a spider’s web, or in most cases, an artificial substitute. The tradition came into practice through a legend of a poor family whose tree would have gone bare if it hadn’t been for a spider spinning a beautiful web over it in time for Christmas morning.
9. Kentucky Fried Christmas: Japan
It is due to Takeshi Okawara (who managed the first KFC restaurant in the country) KFC became a Christmas tradition in Japan. Around 3.6 million Japanese families eat KFC during the Christmas season, reported the BBC. Thanks to a successful advertising campaign and its tagline ‘Kentucky for Christmas‘ KFC throughout Japan now witnesses families queuing up around the block to pick up their battered thighs and wings.
10. Rooster’s Prediction: Belarus
If you’re single, Christmas time in Belarus is the time to have your fortune told…by a rooster. Single women gather with a small pile of grains of corn, a rooster from a local farm is then set out among the women. Whoever’s corn the rooster eats first is said to be the next to get married. Somewhat like the bouquet toss tradition at American weddings.
11. Cavalcade of Lights: Toronto
Cavalcade of Lights is an annual event that marks the official start to the holiday season in Toronto. It features the lighting of Toronto’s 50-foot Christmas tree, live musical performances, a skating party, and a spectacular fireworks display. Since 2002, Cavalcade of Lights has been transformed from a one-night event to a month-long event with the addition of Saturday night skating parties.
12. The Giant Lantern Festival: Philippines
The Giant Lantern Festival is an annual festivities held in December in the City of San Fernando, Pampanga, Philippines. The festival features a competition of giant lanterns. Because of the popularity of the festival, the city has been nicknamed the “Christmas Capital of the Philippines“.
The first Giant Lantern festival was held to honor President Manuel L. Quezon. At that time, Quezon made Arayat his rest area and converted Mount Arayat into a tourist resort. As a show of gratitude to Quezon, the people of San Fernando held a Christmas lantern contest to honor the first family. Quezon himself donated the prize for his lantern contest, which was personally awarded to the winner by First Lady Aurora Aragon Quezon
13. Chicken Feather Trees: Indonesia
Christmas is not a popularly celebrated holiday in Indonesia. But among the country’s small Christian population – particularly on the holiday island of Bali – Christmas trees are not the typical evergreen or artificial ones. Many Indonesians put up artificial Christmas trees made of plastic. But crafters in Bali create another special type of Indonesian Christmas tree from chicken feathers. These feather trees are exported to countries around the world.
14. Hiding Brooms: Norway
It is believed in Norway that on Christmas Eve, witches roam the skies along with other mischievous spirits. Since a witch’s prime mode of transportation is a broom, families hide all of their cleaning supplies attached to sticks, to stop the witches from stealing them.
Do you know any other interesting Christmas traditions around the world that should be on our list? Let us know in the comments.