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7 Bizarre Christmas Traditions from Around the World

Image representing bizarre Christmas traditions from around the world

Christmas is a BIG deal in almost all of the English-speaking world, and many popular traditions are more or less the same, wherever you are.

For example, eating a huge Christmas dinner with roast turkey and vegetables, followed by Christmas Pudding covered in brandy and set on fire. Or giving presents to your loved ones on either Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. Minced pies and mulled wine. Singing carol songs. Children putting up stockings so that Father Christmas (Santa Claus) can come down the chimney and leave presents… if they’ve been good.

But in some parts of the world, Christmas festivities have mixed with other, ancient traditions to create some unusual new ones! Here are 7 of the strangest Christmas traditions from around the world.

  • Hiding Your Brooms, Norway

People in Norway used to believe that evil spirits and witches would come to Earth on Christmas Eve, and look for brooms to ride around on. Today, people still try to hide their brooms in the safest part of the house to stop them from being stolen by witches!

  1. Rollerblading, Venezuela

In the Venezuelan capital of Caracas, people have an interesting way of getting to Church on Christmas Eve: they rollerblade! In fact, it’s now become so popular that many roads are closed to traffic. After church, people head home for tamales – meat wrapped in dough and steamed.

  1. KFC Christmas Dinner, Japan

The Christian community in Japan is very small, so Christmas has never been a popular holiday. In recent years, though, a strange new Christmas Dinner tradition has emerged: families head to the fried chicken chain KFC! Not quite the same as roast turkey…

  1. The Yule Lads, Iceland

Even though 88% of people in Iceland are Christian, ancient Viking beliefs are still strong. Many people genuinely believe in elves called Huldufólk (hidden folk) who live in magic cliffs and rocks. If you have ever been to Iceland or seen photographs of the landscape, it’s easy to see why people might believe that there is something supernatural at work there!

While the elves stay hidden most of the year, in the 13 days before Christmas, Icelandic children leave their shoes by the window so that 13 magical troll-like characters can visit their homes to fill their shoes with gifts. If they’ve been good, the gifts will be nice ones. If they’ve been bad, they get potatoes.

  1. The Krampus, Austria

This one terrifies me. It’s another variation on the idea of Santa Claus – but scary! In Austria, people believe that while St Nicholas is busy bringing presents to the good kids, a horrifying, hideous monster is visiting the bad ones. Rather than just leaving them a chunk of coal, though – he carries them away in his sack!

In the run-up to Christmas, and especially on the eve of St Nicholas’ Day (6th December), Austrian men dress up as the Krampus and run about with chains and bells, frightening children. Festive, eh?

  1. Gävle Goat, Sweden

On December 1st, every year since 1966 in the Swedish town of Gävle, residents have built a 13 metre-high “Yule Goat”. Today this has sparked a whole new tradition where people try to burn down the goat too – they’ve succeeded 29 times so far!

  1. The Green Pickle, Germany

This one’s really cute. Families in Germany buy a green glass pickle (gherkin) to hang on their tree as a decoration. The idea is that this is hard to find among the tree branches – the first child to spot the gherkin on Christmas Day gets good luck and wins a prize.

 

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