The Unusual Christmas Traditions You’ve Likely Never Heard Of

Christmas traditions aren’t just about Santa. In fact, there are a lot of countries across the globe that celebrate in unusual and different ways. Whether it’s shoes filled with chocolate, an evening roller skating event, or eating KFC, other nations have their own ways of celebrating the festive period. Below are just a few of those countries, who don’t follow the U.S. tradition of Christmas trees, presents, and eggnog.

Japan - KFC Christmas Dinner
Christmas dinners in Japan consist of a meal from KFC, with some people pre-ordering their chicken months in advance. Long lines are expected on December 25th outside most KFC restaurants in the Asian nation.

Germany - Shoes Filled With Chocolates
On the evening of Dec. 5th, a day before Saint Nicholas Day, German children polish their shoes and leave them on the street or near the fireplace. Later, they will find them filled with chocolates and various sweets as a reward for their good behavior. 

The Netherlands - An Early Christmas
Contrary to the U.S., the evening of December 5th is when “Sinterklaas” arrives with presents. Children leave a shoe by the fireplace, sing Dutch Christmas songs, and wait for their gifts to arrive. Sinterklaas arrives on horseback, with helpers who dress in brightly-colored clothing, ready to hand out sweets to children.

Italy - Bagpipe-Playing Shepherds
Italian tradition sees bizarre bagpipe-playing shepherds perform tunes in piazzas, normally dressed in traditional sheepskin and wool cloaks. They're known as the zampognari and they perform traditional hymns and music, in parts of Italy such as Naples and Rome.

Australia - Surfing Santas
Christmas in Australia is during the summer, so it’s common to see surfing Santas in bright red fleece suits, lined with white fur and big black boots. 

Spain - Christmas Lottery
Finally, the Spanish Christmas lottery is the biggest in the world, and almost everyone in the country plays. People usually go in with friends, co-workers, or neighbors because it pays out over €2 billion ($2.2 billion). Known as El Gordo Spanish Lottery, it takes place on December 22nd in Madrid.