Six Unusual Christmas Traditions Around the World
Many Australians enjoy a traditional Christmas with a decorated tree, gifts and a big family lunch. However, unlike countries in the Northern hemisphere, an Aussie feast is more likely to include seafood and salad. It may be followed by a game of backyard cricket or beach volleyball. For many, these are considered Australian traditions.
Other countries have their own unique ways of celebrating this special day. Here are some interesting Christmas traditions from around the world.
Instead of just one Santa Claus visiting on Christmas eve, Icelandic kids are lucky enough to have 13 playful trolls, known as Yule Lads, roaming around and leaving presents for two weeks before Christmas. Each of these trolls has a name and unique personality. They include Candle-Stealer, Spoon-Licker and Sausage-Swiper.
The Yule Lads take turns visiting houses where children have left shoes in their bedroom windows. Well-behaved kids get presents and poorly-behaved ones are given rotting potatoes.
The Mexican city of Oaxaca has a very unusual way of marking the festive season. In the days before Christmas, they enjoy a vegetable carving competition known as the Night of the Radishes.
Using only radishes that have been grown with chemicals so they are much bigger than normal, participants create a vast range of carvings, from nativity scenes to frightening monsters. Thousands visit to take part in the fun, which lasts for only a few hours as the radishes whither quickly.
Given the abundance of spiders in Australia over the summer, the Ukrainian tradition of using webs instead of fairy lights would be appropriate here. The tradition is based on a legend about a poor widow and her children who cultivated a tree using a pine cone. They were unable to afford decorations but awoke on Christmas morning to see the tree blanketed in gold and silver cobwebs in the sun.
In keeping with this legend, Ukrainians like to decorate their trees with spider ornaments and fake webs. Many believe this is how tinsel originated.
Italians celebrate Christmas with La Befana, a wine-loving witch. Twelve days after Christmas day, on Epiphany eve, families put out a glass of vino and some sausages for La Befana, who is said to come down the chimney on her broomstick.
Folklore has it that the witch rebuffed an invitation from the Three Wise Men to witness Christ’s birth. She was so upset about this that every Christmas she glides around the country looking for Baby Jesus and leaving presents for good kids and lumps of coal for bad ones.
One of the most surprising Christmas traditions is from Japan where families like to tuck into buckets of KFC on Christmas day. This is believed to have started in the 1970s with a hugely successful ad campaign that linked Christmas and fried chicken.
It has become so wildly popular that restaurant reservations and orders of chicken have to be made months in advance to avoid missing out.
Icelanders claim that at Christmas time a giant cat roams the snowy landscape. This legend originated as an incentive for workers to put in their best effort. Those who did, it was claimed, would receive a gift of clothes. Those who didn’t would be devoured by the massive cat.
To this day it’s still customary for everyone to receive new clothing for Christmas in Iceland to avoid being eaten by the Yule cat.
Christmas is a time of celebration all over the world.