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Photo: Trend Hunter
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If you are contemplating traveling overseas for the holidays this year, it is advisable to conduct thorough research on the customs of the destination country to prevent feeling completely ignorant upon arrival.

Here are 15 of the weirdest Christmas customs from around the world:

1. Japan: All I want for Christmas is… KFC

Put the Christmas turkey out of your mind. Kentucky Fried Chicken is a staple of Christmas dinner for many Japanese people. You have to make reservations to eat at a KFC on Christmas Day because of a combination of tiny Japanese ovens and a cunning marketing campaign that persuades the locals that fried chicken is a traditional American Yuletide feast.

The Colonel Sanders statues outside KFC's Japanese locations don Santa hats in the lead-up to Christmas. The chicken is presented in festive packaging for the holidays. Due to popular demand, an online service has been developed whereby you can pre-order and have your Christmas Family Bucket delivered.

2. Norway: Hide your broom

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Photo: Icon Wall Stickers

In Norway, the arrival of witches and evil spirits is thought to occur on Christmas Eve. Therefore, it makes sense that Norwegian homeowners store all of their brooms away before going to bed.

Nothing ruins Christmas more quickly, after all, than discovering your broom broken into pieces at the base of a tree, caused by some joy-riding witch.

3. Caracas: Get your skates on

Venezuelans attend a daily church service known as Misa de Aguinaldo (Early Morning Mass) in the week before Christmas. It's common in Caracas, the capital, to use roller skates to get to church.

In fact, the custom is so pervasive that many capital roads are closed until 8 a.m. to ensure the safety of Christmas worshippers.

4. Austria: Facing your Christmas demons

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.

5. Catalonia: Pooping their way through Christmas

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Photo: Smithsonian Magazine

Greetings and welcome to the peculiar Catalan custom of "defecating log," or caga tió.

In Catalonia, people fashion a log into a figure by painting a face on it and adding a hat. After that, they "feed" it fruit, nuts, and candy for two weeks.

With sticks, the whole family beats the log on Christmas Eve, singing a traditional song that means, 'if you don't crap well, I'll beat you with a stick,' until the log exhales all of its treats. It's difficult to understand why this custom hasn't taken off elsewhere.

They also use tiny, pooping ceramic caganers (figurines) to adorn their nativity scenes. Typically, the figurines feature well-known characters, frequently selected from that year's news, with their pants always tucked in around their ankles.

6. Greenland: A Christmas dinner you'll never forget

The next time you find yourself whining about your grandmother's holiday Brussel sprouts, remember the unfortunate children of Greenland.

Every Christmas, they are forced to eat mattak, which is raw whale skin with a small amount of blubber, and kiviak, which is made by encasing a small arctic bird called an auk in seal skin, burying it for a few months, and then eating the flesh that has decomposed.

7. Guatemala: How clean is your house?

In Guatemala, being clean truly comes second to being godly. The devil and other evil spirits, according to the locals, reside in your home's murky, dark corners.

As a result, they clean up and gather trash during the week leading up to Christmas, then stack it all outside in a massive pile. Lastly, the entire thing is set on fire and a devil effigy is placed on top.

The "Burning of the Devil," as it is known, is called La Quema del Diablo. For Guatemalans, the idea is to burn all the bad things from the past year and rise from the ashes to start a new one.

8. Ukraine: Deck the halls with… spider’s webs?

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Photo: Wikipedia

Ukrainians like to add artificial spiders and webs to the tree in addition to the traditional tinsel, fairy lights, and ornaments.

An old story about a poor woman who could not afford to decorate her tree and woke up on Christmas morning to find it covered in a beautiful, glittering web by a spider is the source of this tradition.

It's a lucky charm. It has nothing to do with bad cleaning.

9. Czech Republic: A pair of matchmakers

Unmarried Czech women throw one of their shoes over their shoulders 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.

10. Italy: Where Santa’s little helper is an old witch

When the Vatican was unable to provide solid evidence for Santa's existence, they chose to support an elderly witch known as La Befana who brings gifts to children in Italy.

According to legend, the three wise men asked the witch to come see the baby Jesus with them. The legend began, she claimed, because she was too busy.

11. Portugal: I feed dead people

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Photo: Stacker

Families occasionally reserve extra seats at the dinner table for departed family members during consoda, the customary Portuguese Christmas feast.

It is believed that the practice will bring prosperity to the household. Crumbs are sometimes also left on the hearth. And you thought it was difficult enough to feed all of your surviving relatives?

12. Germany: Fill your boots

German kids customarily leave a boot or shoe outside their bedroom door on December 5th.

If they've been good, when they wake up in the morning, the shoes will be full of candy. If not, all they will discover is a branch. Of course, it's best to leave out your most recent pair of shoes—ideally, the ones that are still in their box.

13. Spain: New Year, new (red) knickers

For the New Year, here's one. It's traditional to wear red underwear on New Year's Eve in Spain.

The small town of La Font de la Figuera has carried on the custom by hosting New Year's Eve runs in which participants only wear red underwear. It just so happens that the town has the highest rate of pneumonia in the nation.

14. Germany: Pickle in the tree

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Photo: The Cross Border Blog

The Christmas tree tradition embraced around the world today is believed to have started in Germany back in the 16th Century, so it comes as no surprise that our Teutonic cousins still have some funny customs relating to the festive trees. One of these is to hide a pickle somewhere within the branches of the tree, and give a gift to whichever child in the household finds it.

Some claim that the tradition may not be German after-all. One legend says that the Christmas pickle originated in Spain when two young boys were held as prisoners inside a pickle barrel. Saint Nicholas rescued the boys and brought them back to life. Either way, a pickle on the Christmas tree is a tradition we can totally get behind.

15. Ukraine: A cobweb Christmas

Not for arachnophobes, the strangest holiday tradition 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 within the house apparently felt sorry for the family. The webs of spiders are also lucky in Ukrainian culture.

A gigantic cat is rumored to prowl the snow-covered countryside in Iceland around Christmas, which is one of the strangest holiday customs we've ever heard of. The Yule Cat was historically used by farmers as a reward for their laborers; those who put in extra effort would get new clothes, while those who didn't would be eaten by the enormous creature that resembled a cat.

In Iceland, people now make it a tradition to receive new clothes for Christmas in order to ward off an unfortunate end.

For as little as £17.38 per day, you can rent a car to pursue your search for this elusive feline at your own leisure.

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