The World’s Weirdest Christmas Traditions

Christmas, celebrated by most Christians on December 25, commemorates the birth of Jesus of Nazareth. Americans, like many of the world’s peoples, have developed their own Christmas traditions and observances, but what about other countries?


JAPAN: If you live in Japan, forget the Christmas turkey. For many Japanese, traditional Christmas dinner is Kentucky Fried Chicken. Demand is such that an online service has been created: order your Christmas Family Bucket in advance and have it delivered. 


NORWAY: Norwegians believe that Christmas Eve coincides with the arrival of evil spirits and witches. It is only logical then, that Norwegian householders hide all their brooms before they go to sleep. After all, nothing spoils Christmas quicker than finding your broom in broken pieces at the foot of a tree, trashed by some joy-riding witch. 


VENEZUELA: In the week leading up to Christmas, Venezuelans attend a daily church service called Misa de Aguinaldo (Early Morning Mass). In Caracas it’s customary to travel to the church service on roller skates. In fact, so widespread is the practice that many roads in the capital are closed until 8am to provide Christmas worshippers with a safe passage. 

GREENLAND: The next time you find yourself complaining about granny's festive Brussels sprouts, spare a thought for the poor kids in Greenland. Each Christmas, they have to dig into mattak – raw whale skin with a little blubber – and kiviak, which is made by wrapping an auk (a small arctic bird) in seal skin, burying it for several months and eating its decomposed flesh. Brussels sprouts sound pretty good about now, don’t they? 

UKRAINE: In addition to the standard tinsel, fairy lights and baubles, Ukrainians like to throw an artificial spider and web on the tree as well. The tradition has its origins in an old tale of a poor woman who couldn't afford to decorate her tree and woke on Christmas morning to discover a spider had covered it in a glorious, sparkling web. It’s for good luck. It's not about poor housekeeping. 

GERMANY: On the evening of December 5th, German children leave a boot or a shoe outside their bedroom door. In the morning, if they've been good, they will wake to find the shoes filled with sweets. If they have haven’t, they will find only a branch. Obviously, it is best to leave out the newest pair of shoes you own – preferably, fresh out of the box.