How about an ancient German tradition (which has now made its way to the US) that the Christmas Pickle ornament (traditionally made of blown up glass) is hidden on the tree and the first child to find it on Christmas morning gets a special gift!
An old Ukrainian folktale tells the story of a poor woman unable to afford decorations for her tree, when she awoke on Christmas Day, a spider had spun a beautiful web across it, making it sparkle and shine. Ukrainians now hang a cobweb ornament on their tree. In the UK they hang chocolates on the tree branches– I know which one I’d chose!
Proof a shoe can change your life
Shoes seem to catch the interests of various countries at Christmas, did you know that in Caracas, Venezuela the roads are cleared on Christmas morning to protect people roller skating to Church! Stylish!
In the Czech Republic, unmarried women use a shoe to determine how successful their love life will be in the coming year. They stand with their back to their front door and chuck a shoe over their shoulder, if it lands pointing towards the door they’ll be married within a year. Pass me my boot!
Festive Fashion statements
A modern tradition to sweep the UK is that of the Christmas Jumper.
Traditionally the present you disliked the most, given by your aunt who smells faintly of cabbage, people now search far and wide to find the most hideous, embarrassing over the top jumper. 3D add-ons, electronic lights and hidden buttons to make it sing, if you look hard enough – you’ll find it and wear it with pride.
According to the Catholic Church St Lucia is celebrated in Denmark for wearing a wreath with four candles on her head (this coming from the Advent wreath) so that she could (illegally) feed and donate to the poor of Rome who hid in the catacombs. A candlelit service is held every year on the 13th of December and one lucky girl is chosen to represent St Lucia. Watch out for the wax!
Check out to know more about Danish christmas traditions.
One truly strange Spanish custom is the ‘Tió de Nadal’ (commonly known as ‘Caga Tió’, ‘the pooping log’ in English!), a log hollowed out and decorated with a face and legs. Starting from December 8th, the family feed him every day until Christmas Eve or Day when they place him in the fireplace and beat him with a stick until it ‘poops’ out goodies then they drop either a salt herring, a garlic bulb or an onion on top.
In Japan, they adapted the Western Culture of Christmas, so much so that it’s becoming a tradition to eat KFC for your Christmas Dinner! Reserve your table now…
Instilling Festive Fear this Christmas
Known for a time of happiness, family and friendship, perhaps the strangest tradition is scaring the children! South Africa talks of Danny, a boy who ate Santa’s cookies, this angered his Grandmother so much she killed him! Krampus,
Austrian’s demon-like accomplice to Santa, punishes all the naughty children. More typically in smaller towns and villages, men walk the streets dressed as the demon, scaring young children, similar to that of Père Fouettard in France. A butcher, armed with a whip, who accompanies St Nicholas, handing out coal to the misbehaved.
It’s one way to ensure the children are kind!
Do you know of any other strange Christmas traditions? What does your country do?