Unusual Christmas Traditions

Owen Marshall

Christmas traditions can vary widely around the world, and some are quite unusual or unique. Here are a few examples of unusual Christmas traditions from different countries and cultures:

  • Krampus: In Alpine regions such as Austria and Bavaria, Krampus is a folklore figure who is the counterpart to Saint Nicholas. Krampus is depicted as a horned creature who punishes naughty children while Saint Nicholas rewards the well-behaved ones.
  • Caga Tió: In Catalonia, Spain, families have a log called “Caga Tió” that they decorate with a face and a hat. On Christmas Eve, children beat the log with sticks while singing a traditional song, hoping it will “poop” out presents.
  • Gävle Goat: In Gävle, Sweden, a giant straw goat is erected in the town’s square every year for Advent. The tradition has become famous because the goat often faces attempts of vandalism and arson.
  • Roller-Skating to Mass: In Caracas, Venezuela, it’s a tradition for people to roller-skate to early morning Christmas Mass. Roads are even closed to cars to make way for skaters.
  • KFC Christmas Dinner: In Japan, a surprising tradition involves eating KFC for Christmas dinner. This started as a marketing campaign in the 1970s and has since become a popular custom.
  • Yule Lads: In Iceland, there are thirteen “Yule Lads,” mischievous creatures who leave small gifts in children’s shoes on thirteen consecutive nights leading up to Christmas.
  • Dipping in the Danube: In Hungary, there’s a tradition where people gather on Christmas morning and head to the Danube River to dip in the icy water for good health. This tradition is rooted in folk beliefs about the healing properties of water.
  • Christmas Carp: In the Czech Republic, it’s common to have a live carp swimming in the family bathtub for a few days before Christmas. This fish is then prepared for the Christmas Eve meal.
  • Night of the Radishes: In Oaxaca, Mexico, a festival called “Noche de Rábanos” (Night of the Radishes) is held on December 23rd. Artisans carve elaborate scenes out of radishes, showcasing their creativity.
  • Spider Webs on the Tree: In Ukraine, it’s a tradition to include spider webs on the Christmas tree decorations. This stems from a folktale where a poor widow’s tree was covered in spider webs that turned into gold and silver.

These unusual Christmas traditions showcase the diversity of cultures and the many ways in which people celebrate the holiday season around the world.