‘Tis the season to set up statues of pooping men, put away the brooms and bring out the roller skates. Well, according to these Christmas traditions it is.
We’ve uncovered the craziest (and some quite clever) Christmas traditions from around the world. And while you may not want to adopt any of them into your Christmas routine, it’s always fun to see how other children celebrate this joyous occasion.
We all have different Christmas traditions that have been passed down by our families. Growing up in Canada, the Christmas customs that I grew up with are a lot different than the ones my Aussie kids are enjoying. And that’s perfectly okay. There is no superior guy in a red suit dictating to us how Christmas should be celebrated… oh wait.
But I guess some countries interpret things a little differently… Behold the best of the best in super wacky Christmas traditions.
1. Oh Mango Tree
Pine or evergreen trees are commonly used as Christmas trees, decorated with ornaments, tinsel and lights. But in India, mango and banana trees are the traditional Christmas trees of choice.
2. Silver Bells and Spiderwebs
The Ukrainians forgo the traditional tree ornaments and instead choose to decorate their trees in fake spiders and cobwebs. The reason? It goes back to local folklore in which a woman adorned her tree in cobwebs only to have the webs turn into gold and silver on Christmas Day. Hey, I’d bring out the fake spiders if this happened too.
3. The Fashion Police Pussycat
In Iceland, legend has it that the Yule Cat stalks the streets and devours badly-dressed people. Those who do not have new clothes by Christmas Eve are said to be eaten by this horrifying cat.
4. The Shoe Toss
Unlucky in love? All it takes is a shoe on Christmas Day to change it, or according to the Slovakians. Simply stand with your back to the door and toss a shoe over your shoulders on Christmas Day. If it lands with the toe pointing to the door, your luck is about to change.
5. Roller Skating
In Caracas, Venezuela, children enjoy a roller skate to Mass in the morning. The streets are even blocked off to make way for the families of roller skating Christians.
6. Stuffed Shoes
You’ve probably heard of Christmas stockings, but what about Christmas shoes? In the Philippines, children leave their polished shoes on the windowsill for the Three Kings to leave little treats in. This is also a tradition in Germany and Iceland.
7. Hide the Pickle
Christmas morning is especially exciting for children in Germany. Their parents hide a pickle in the Christmas tree and the first child to find the pickle gets a small prize.
8. The Log Beating
Ornaments and Christmas crafts made out of logs are actually quite common, especially in colder countries where log fires are synonymous with Christmas. But a Catalonian tradition called caga tio (which translates to defecating log) sees families make a cute character out of a piece of hollow log, fill the log up with sweets and then beat the log until the sweets excrete out of the log. It’s kind of like a sadistic pinata. Only Christmasy.
9. The Pooping Statue
Oh, but it gets better in Catalonia (a community of Spain) as Christmas is also the time that the statues of pooping people come out of hiding and are proudly displayed on mantles as part of the nativity scenes. The man is known as Caganer and he comes complete with a pile of poo. Because nothing says Merry Christmas quite like a pooping dude.
10. Dining on Whale Skin
No matter where you are, Christmas is all about the food. While our colder counterparts in America and Canada feast on turkey and cranberry sauce and we indulge in BBQed prawns and salads, South Africans opt for a delicious dish of deep-fried caterpillars of Emperor Moths. Those in Greenland choose to eat raw whale skin on such occasions. And the Japanese? Their traditional Christmas meal is KFC.
11. Brooms Be Gone
In Norway, families hide their household brooms in fear that witches and evil spirits will come and steal them away. No word on what they do with their vacuums.
12. Merry Witchmas
Italians also celebrate Christmas in January (on the 5th) when a friendly witch named Befana delivers sweets and toys.
13. Christmas Post Code
Most of our kids will take part in the tradition of writing a letter to Santa. But in Canada, Santa has his very own postal code-H0H 0H0 which follows the alphanumeric postal system that Canada uses. Thousands of volunteers reply to the millions of letters they receive every year.
Naw. Sweet sweet Canadians.
14. White Christmas
Christmas in Ethiopia is celebrated on 7 January when everyone dresses in white and the men play a game called ganna – a fast-paced game with wooden balls and sticks. Sounds a bit like the cricket-watching-on-Boxing-Day tradition in Australia. Oh, but the game is “fast-paced”. Nevermind then.
What Christmas traditions do you keep alive in your household?