There are lots of Christmas traditions that are practiced by a number of countries all over the world during the holiday season. These traditions can be as diverse as the culture and religious practices of each and every country in the world. Read about some of the countries and the sweet and whacky ways in which people celebrate Christmas around the world.
In Russia and Ukraine, Christmas is celebrated on the 7th of January and not on the 26th of December like in most countries. This is because the Orthodox Church uses the old Julian calendar for religious celebration days. Traditionally in Russia on Christmas people offer special prayers and fast sometimes for 39 days till the eve of January 6th or Christmas Eve. When the first evening star appears in the sky then starts the 12-course supper in honor of each of the 12 apostles.
In Ireland, it is tradition to leave mince pies and a bottle of Guinness out as a snack for Santa.
In Spain, Portugal, and Italy, a Christmas tradition is to set up a model of the village of Bethlehem along with Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus but what’s whacky is that a caganer or ‘shitter’ in English is also placed in the scene which is a figurine traditionally of a man in the act of defecating. Weird I say!
In the Czech Republic single women perform a very unusual ritual on Christmas Eve to find out if they’ll get married in the following year. With their back to the house door, they throw one of their shoes over their shoulder. If the shoe lands with the heel towards the door then she definitely will be single for another year. On the other hand if the front of the shoe points towards the door then it means she will move out of her parents’ house and should start making wedding preparations.
In Sweden, the people of the town of Gavle have erected a giant goat made of straw for over 40 years to mark the beginning of the holiday season. Every year the vandals do everything they can to burn down the goat before Christmas Day. Since 1966 the straw goat has survived until Christmas Day only 10 times. People disguise themselves as Santa Claus or elves to get past the guards and set fire to the straw monument.
In Caracas, the capital of Venezuela, on the morning of Christmas Eve, the roads of the city are closed to cars so that the people can roller skate to mass.
According to an ancient belief in Norway, witches and evil spirits would emerge on Christmas Eve to steal brooms to ride the skies. Therefore on Christmas Eve, all the brooms and other such cleaning equipment are hidden and men fire their shotguns outside their houses to frighten these witches away.
The people of Netherlands who celebrate the holiday on December 6th await the arrival of Sinterklaas and his sidekick Black Pete who come by way of a steamer to leave candy and nuts for good little boys and girls who have filled their shoes with sugar and hay for his horse.
In Germany, December 6th is celebrated as Nikolaustag St. Claus Day and on the eve of this day children leave out a shoe or boot outside their door and the next morning candies and small toys appear in them for those who have been good or a golden birch (a symbol for spanking) is placed next to the sweets if they were bad.
In Japan, the traditional Christmas dinner is Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC). It’s so popular and well marketed that you would have to make a reservation to eat at KFC on Christmas Eve.
In Greenland, rather than serving the more traditional food like turkey, ham, cranberry sauce, mat pies, suckling pig and Christmas puddings, and the likes- ‘kiviak’ is the order of the day. It’s the raw flesh of an auk wrapped in sealskin and placed under a rock for several months until its well on its way to decomposition. Most of the natives of Greenland consider it a delicious treat. Also ‘Mattak’ is served comprising of whale skin with a strip of blubber inside. Bon Apetit!
In Slovakia at the beginning of the Christmas Eve dinner, the head of the family takes a spoon of Loksa (which is a traditional Christmas dish made out of bread, poppy seed filling, and water) and throws it up at the ceiling. The more mixture that remains glued on the ceiling the richer his crops will be the following year.
So, that’s a round-up of some unusual Christmas traditions followed by people around the world. Do tell us about what you think of them and if you know any whacky and weird traditions yourself, feel free to share in the comments below!