They do WHAT For Christmas? 8 Quirky Yuletide Traditions

24 December 2015
Read Time: 2.4 mins

The spirit of Christmas is a magical and powerful force; one that sees families unite for sleigh rides, poolside fun, gift giving and hiding pickles in Christmas trees. Wait, maybe that only happens in Germany. While you may roll your eyes at the lame bon-bon jokes and the tissue paper crowns your mother insists you wear at Christmas dinner, it's nothing compared to some traditions. Check out some of the quirkiest we found.

Japan

Wowee! This seems like a pile of presents big enough for a family of four. I wonder what they could be?

A photo posted by KFC - Kentucky Fried Chicken (@kfc) on

If it's not the presents and it's not Santa Claus that gets young and old excited for the festive season, it must be, er, KFC? Since a hugely successful marketing campaign in the 70s, folk in Japan have upheld the tradition of feasting on the Colonel's finger-lickin' finest for Christmas dinner. Go on, embrace Kurisumasu ni wa kentakkii! (Kentucky for Christmas!)

Austria

Travel Inspiration The thought of an eternity with that face should be enough keep you straight and narrow!

Jolly ol’ St Nicholas has a dark companion in Austria, a friend with horns and a devilish snarl who goes by the name Krampus. Santa doesn't need a naughty and nice list with Krampus by his side. This unfriendly face has the 'naughty' kids covered, swatting them with chains before dragging them to the fiery depths of the underworld.

Czech Republic

No one to kiss under the mistletoe? Ladies, if your Christmas wish is for a special someone, try throwing a shoe over your shoulder in the Czech Republic. No really, stand with your back to the front door and throw your footwear over your shoulder on the 25th. If the shoe lands with the toe pointing outside, you'll be married within the year. Jingle bells? More like wedding bells!

Venezuela

Travel Inspiration Just the local neighbourhood gang on their way to Christmas Mass

Christmas celebrations in Venezuela's capital involves roller skates. On Christmas morning, it's common for residents of Caracas to strap on a pair of skates and glide their way to Mass – the streets are closed until 8am for the event. It's also customary for children to tie a string to their big toe and dangle the other end out the window, allowing kids skating past to offer a friendly tug as they roll by. Um, okay?

Catalan

Travel Inspiration Caganers are the symbol of Christmas in Catalan

Wait, what's that nestled near the Three Wise Men? Right there, near the frankincense. Is that a figurine...defecating? Nativity scenes are found all throughout Spain's Catalan region during the festive season, and if you look closely, you'll find these humorous figurines hidden within the displays. But it's not a form of disrespect; these figures represent prosperity and fertilisation. Naturally. These days, it's common to see caganers in the form of famous people. Nothing says 'Merry Christmas' like Donald Trump on the throne.

Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada

BYO costume for any Christmases spent in Canada's most easterly province. Mummering is the Newfoundland and Labrador tradition of donning a disguise and attempting to trick the neighbours in return for food and drink during the 12 days of Christmas. If mummers are welcomed into a home, the hosts must guess their identities through a series of questions, or by poking and prodding! Mummers traditionally perform songs, dance and jokes as they socialise with the hosts before moving onto the next house.

Philippines

Travel Inspiration The Philippines lights up with Christmas from September

So huge is Christmas in the Philippines that decorations go up in September. The 'ber' months (September, October etc) are full of festive cheer in all its glittery glory, right up until January. Kids often leave their polished shoes and socks on window sills for the Three Kings to leave gifts in when they pass their houses at night too.

Iceland

Hopefully Santa will leave you some new threads this year; otherwise you may come to an untimely end thanks to the Yule Cat. In Iceland, this mythical beast is said to stalk the Icelandic hills and if you're not donning next season's fashion at Christmas, he'll eat you. Merry Christmas, ya filthy animal.


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Anna Howard

Give me street food over Michelin stars, cellar doors over wine bars and small towns and wide open spaces over big cities any day. Travel for me means ticking off the 'to eat and drink' list one regional flavour and wine bottle at a time.