Unusual Christmas Traditions

The holiday season is filled with all sorts of rituals that only happen once a year, during Christmastime. Cookies baked from a family recipe, reading ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas, the prerequisite photo with Santa Claus. There are other customs, though, that are less common here in the States. Here are some unusual Christmas traditions from around the world:

  1. Germans hide a pickle in the Christmas tree on Christmas Eve – the first child to discover it in the morning receives a small gift.
  2. Since 1966, authorities in Gavle, Sweden, have installed a straw Swedish Yule Goat in their town square; which is burned down at midnight by vandals about every other year.
  3. An age-old tradition in Great Britain dictates that each member of the family must stir the christmas pudding in a clockwise direction before it’s cooked, making a wish as they do so.
  4. Icelandic children leave a shoe on their bedroom windowsills during the 12 days of Christmas. Each night, it’s filled with sweets and gifts, ready to be enjoyed in the morning.
  5. Thanks to an advertising campaign in 1974, Japanese families eat KFC on Christmas Eve. Five to ten times the normal monthly sales of chicken will be sold during Christmas.
  6. Ukrainians forego ornaments and tinsel, instead decorating their Christmas trees with artificial spiders and cobwebs. Seeing a spiderweb on Christmas morning brings good luck.
  7. Canadian Post recognizes the address Santa Claus, North Pole and H0H0H0. For the past 30 years, any letters received bearing this address are opened and replied to by thousands of volunteers.
  8. Catalonians include the figure of the Caganer in their nativity scenes – a small figure of a man defecating.
  9. Venezuelans attend Mass in the run-up to Christmas. Residents of Caracas journey to Mass on roller skates.
  10. The candle-lit tree: with the adoption of strings of electric lights, the 16th century German custom of decorating your tree with burning candles has mostly been forgotten. Throwing caution (and safety) to the wind, my parents lit candles on our Christmas tree in our apartment when I was growing up in New York City. Photos of me as a little girl smiling before a tree alight make me wonder what the back up plan was if things went sideways …

Merry Christmas!

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