10 Most Unusual Christmas Customs Worldwide
|Weirdest Christmas Traditions. Photo: KnowInsiders.com
Christmas has arrived, bringing with it several yearly customs. Everything from eating turkey and decorating the tree to writing letters to Santa Claus at the North Pole and caroling. Naturally, every family also has its own customs. These could be anything from watching It's A Wonderful Life and going to church on Christmas Eve at midnight to opening one present the day before the holiday.
All of these are, nevertheless, widespread customs in North America. Outside of the United States and Canada, a large portion of the world observes Christmas very differently. Furthermore, a lot of the customs practiced in other countries are strange and exotic at the same time.
What are the most peculiar Christmas customs observed globally?
1. Austria: Facing your Christmas demons
|Photo: The Guardian
Krampus is the evil counterpart of St. Nicholas in Austria. He is a demon-like creature who serves as St. Nick's bad cop, and his only job is to punish misbehaving kids before Christmas.
Men in gothic attire prowl the streets with chains and a basket intended for kidnapping particularly mischievous kids and transporting them to hell.
It's undoubtedly one method of keeping the children off the streets.
2. Catalonia: Displaying a Pooping Man in the Nativity Scene
|Photo: People | HowStuffWorks
Introducing Caganer, a Catalan custom with an issue with bowel movements! It's common to see the peasant outside, urinating, while sporting a traditional Catalan barrantina hat.
In contrast to American nativity scenes, which typically feature the traditional stable, manger, and baby Jesus, European nativity scenes frequently feature an entire pastoral landscape. A Bethlehem model wouldn't be the same without a man urinating on the ground.
Since the 18th century, Caganer, whose name literally translates to "the crapper" or "the sh*tter," has been adding some humor to holiday celebrations.
3. Ukraine: A Cobweb Christmas
|Photo: Pulse Nigeria
Not for people who can't stand creepy crawlies, this is one of the most popular holiday customs in Ukraine! The decorations used by Ukrainians are similar to the natural formation of spiders' webs shimmering with dew, instead of using typical ornaments like baubles, tinsel, and stars.
The custom originated from a folktale about a destitute widow who was unable to afford to deck her children's tree. There is a legend that the children discovered lovely webs all over the tree when they woke up on Christmas morning, as spiders in the house apparently felt sorry for the family. The webs of spiders are also lucky in Ukrainian culture.
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4. Iceland: The Yule Cat
|Photo: By Night
Numerous nations' mythologies and customs heavily feature animals. There's a unique Christmas custom in Iceland involving a very special cat that goes around the streets once a year.
However, this cat isn't your typical adorable, amiable, four-legged friend that we might picture wandering around Iceland. The Yule Cat is a vicious creature that prowls around in the winter and devours anyone who hasn't bought new clothes for Christmas Eve, according to myths and legends.
5. Japan: Kentucky Fried Christmas
|Photo: Culture Trip
On holidays like Christmas, it's customary for many families to get together and share a meal. Enjoying dinner together is a big part of the holidays for many families, whether it's turkey, ham, or a family recipe. In Japan, this is also accurate! Christmas is still a popular holiday for many people, despite the fact that it is observed very differently and has only been for a few decades.
That being said, what is the traditional Christmas meal in Japan? KFC Kentucky for Christmas was a wintertime special campaign that KFC began promoting in Japan in the 1970s. KFC offers a special selection of family dinners during the Christmas season with the goal of fostering family time.
6. Estonian Tradition: The Family Sauna Bath
|Photo: Adobe Stock
Families in Estonia strip off and head to the family sauna to share a "cleansing" sweat rather than getting together around the living room Christmas tree to open presents. This is supposed to assist in clearing the family home of bad energy and spirits. The grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins comprise the extended family that frequently participates in these Christmas saunas. Although couples can enjoy saunas at any time of year, the sauna experience during the holidays is especially memorable.
There's nothing quite like getting into the buff in a sauna with your grandparents. The family that works out together, I suppose, stays together. In any case, in Estonia.
7. New Zealand: A Different Christmas Tree
|Photo: Gardening Know How
The pine tree is the traditional Christmas tree in many countries. They sit in our living rooms, get decorated, and gifts are tucked under them, whether they are fake or real. However, Christmas trees are entirely different in New Zealand.
The Pohutukawa tree in New Zealand blooms in December and January with vivid red flowers. In that region of the world, it is actually summer, but Christmas is observed at the same time. The bright red blooms and green leaves of this tree, which has significant roots in Maori mythology, are a universal symbol of Christmas in New Zealand.
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8. Czech Republic: A pair of matchmakers
|Photo: Wanderlust Travel Magazine
Unmarried Czech women throw one of their shoes over their shoulder on Christmas Eve while standing with their backs to the door.
It indicates that they will tie the knot within the year if it lands with the toe facing the door.
They'll have to watch Bridget Jones films for another year if it lands with the heel facing the door. Still, maybe it's preferable to marrying a heel.
9. South Africa: Fried Caterpillars
|Photo: The Nomad Tours
Certain foods from different parts of the world seem a little weird to visitors. When you give them a chance, some of them turn out to be surprisingly delicious, but there are others that we could never imagine trying.
There's one very strange food that's typically consumed during the Christmas season in South Africa. It's crispy and fried, and people claim it tastes good. What's that? Caterpillars fried! People in South Africa eat deep-fried caterpillars as a snack on Christmas Day.
10. Italy: The Christmas Witch
|Photo: Daily Italian Words
Many cultures believe that on Christmas Eve, Santa Claus makes his way around the globe and brings gifts to good little boys and girls. Children are taught to behave well because Santa is watching them and will find out! This famous person gives gifts to good kids on Christmas morning.
However, there is another person delivering gifts in Italy. An Italian witch known by the name of Befana is rumored to travel throughout the nation on Epiphany Eve, or January 5th, bringing gifts to children. The kids' socks are stuffed with goodies and presents if they behaved well throughout the year. If they were bad, though? All they receive is coal.
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