9 Fun and Unique Christmas Traditions From Around The World
Christmas is a time for getting together with your loved ones, eating turkey, opening presents – and fairies delivering gifts instead of good old Santa.
Well, that’s if you believe in some of the many unique traditions around the world that is!
To many of us, Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without the usual things: Our family and friends, our stockings filled with surprises, crackers, eggnog and mistletoe.
But there are many countries in this world, which means that there are many wacky traditions.
If you’re feeling in the festive spirit and want to learn a bit more about how different cultures celebrate the most wonderful time of the year, let’s take a look at 9 fun and unique Christmas traditions from around the world!
The Christmas Pickle
The Christmas pickle tradition is thought to hail from either Germany or Spain, and is easily one of the oddest Christmas traditions I’ve come across.
Basically, there is a very big Christmas tree inside someone’s house. And inside the tree – hidden among all the baubles and tinsel – is a pickle.
Yep, a pickle.
The object of the “game” is for guests to try and track down this pickle. Whoever finds it first wins an extra gift.
Hopefully the gift is not a pickle.
No doubt you’ve grown up with the bewildering tale of Santa Claus squeezing down your sut-stained chimney, before dumping some presents underneath your tree and climbing back up the chimney again.
It’s probably a story you never question as a kid, despite this being a horrendous way for an old man to be treated. Who on earth would want the indignity of entering and leaving a house by a chimney? And if you say to me “it’s so no one would see him”, well, what about all the groans he makes as he makes his way down the chimney?? What about all the times he stubs his toe on a brick?
In Australia, they know that entering and leaving a house is a total logistical nightmare, which is why their Santa Claus rocks up on the beach on a surfboard.
Since when did Santa get so cool??
Let’s Skate To Mass!
It’s traditional in many countries for its citizens to go to church late on Christmas Eve/early Christmas morning to give thanks to the Lord.
It’s also traditional for everyone to walk there like normal people.
However, in Venezuela, the natives don’t walk to church – they skate there!!
Yup, between December 16 and 24, the streets of Caracas are shut down before 8am so that the fervent religious folk can skate to church en masse. It must be quite a site!!
Austrian’s Scare The Kids!
Christmas is a time to be happy. It’s a time for love, laughter and romance.
Except, no one told any of this to the Austrian’s.
See, over in the land of the sound of music, it’s tradition for young guys to dress up as demons called the Krampus, before walking around the streets with cowbells and rods.
Why? Simply to scare the townsfolk.
It’s okay if you’re fully aware of this tradition as an Austrian. But imagine being a tourist doing a bit of Christmas shopping OMG.
Spider Webs …
Okay, spider webs are gross. So what have they got to do with Christmas??
Well, apparently, over in Ukraine, people get a little bit excited about spiders webs when Christmas comes around.
See, the Ukrainians love to spin a folk tale or two, and one of them just happens to involve spiders.
If a poor family wakes up on Christmas morning and finds that their tree (which is totally bare ‘cause they’re so poor) is adorned with silky spider webs, it means they can expect a financially prosperous year.
Knowing my luck, the most that would happen is I’d wake up with a spider on my face!!
Scary Danish Elves
The Dane’s love a good folk tale. And I sure hope this particular one is a folk tale and not actually real …
What happens in Denmark is there is this little elf guy called Nisse. Unfortunately, he’s a bit mischievous and is often up to no good.
At Christmas time, families must leave him a bowl of porridge or rice pudding at night for him to eat. If they forget, there is a good chance he’ll steal some presents. Oh no!
Pull The Cracker
Pulling a cracker is a Christmas tradition in my home country, the UK. I’m sure it’s pretty customary in other nations, too. But just in case you aren’t aware of this delightful xmas tradition, what happens is that two people take one end of a cracker and pull. The cracker goes bang! and a plastic to flies out from one end, while a paper hat can be found at the other.
As you’ve probably guessed, you take whichever gift you received at your end.
There is usually always a joke included somewhere in the cracker too. It’s always a really rubbish joke, but it’s enough to keep the party going!!
Get Your Shoes Out For The French
France seems like a civilised, progressive country. But when Christmas comes around, they can get just as wacky as the rest of us.
Parents tell their kids that Santa will only leave them a gift if they take off their shoes and leave them by the fireplace before bed on Christmas Eve.
Then, during the night, Santa pops down the chimney and leaves a gift or two in the shoes. Bless.
Eat Fried Chicken
Since when have we associated fried chicken with Christmas? Um, since KFC. Duh!
While it’s tradition in America and the UK to slice up a turkey for Christmas, other nations do things a bit differently. The Poles enjoy fish, while the Japanese are really starting to enjoy fried chicken of all things.
I’m not sure when this “tradition” began, but somewhere along the line a clever marketing team created the association between fried chicken and Christmas, and the Japanese were sold.