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Main image: Christmassy woman holding lollipops (Dreamstime)

The world's 7 weirdest Christmas traditions


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12th December 2016

Venezuelans skate to church. Norwegians hide their brooms. And Catalans beat the hell out of dressed up logs. Christmas really does drive people crazy...

Lining up for Christmas dinner in Japan (Flickr: David Kawabata)

Lining up for Christmas dinner in Japan (Flickr: David Kawabata)

1. Japan: All I want for Christmas is… KFC

Forget the Christmas turkey or ham. For many Japanese, traditional Christmas dinner is Kentucky Fried Chicken.

Due to a combination of tiny Japanese ovens and a clever marketing campaign convincing locals that fried chicken is a traditional American Yuletide feast, reservations have to be made to eat at a KFC on Christmas Day.

During the run-up to Christmas, Colonel Sanders statues outside KFC’s Japanese outlets wear Santa gear. The chicken is served in special holiday packaging. Demand is such that an online service has been created: order your Xmas Family Bucket in advance and have it delivered.


Witch flights forbidden near Bergen (Shutterstock.com)

Witch flights forbidden near Bergen (Shutterstock.com)

2. Norway: Hide your broom

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.


Rollerblading to church (Shutterstock.com)

Rollerblading to church (Shutterstock.com)

3. Caracas: Get your skates on

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


The hills are alive with ... Krampus (Shutterstock.com)

The hills are alive with ... Krampus (Shutterstock.com)

4. Austria: Facing your Christmas demons

In Austria, St Nicholas has an evil counterpart called Krampus. He is the bad cop to St Nick’s good cop, a demon-like creature with one task: to punish bad children before Christmas.

Men dressed in devil costumes roam the streets, carrying chains and a basket for abducting especially bad children and hauling them to hell.

It's certainly one way to keep the kids off the streets.

5. Catalonia: Beating the crap out of Christmas

Welcome to the bizarre Catalan tradition of caga tió or 'defecating log'.

Locals in Catalonia create a character out of a log, drawing a face on it and giving it a hat. Then they spend a fortnight 'feeding' it fruit, nuts and sweets. 

On Christmas Eve, the entire family beats the log with sticks and sings traditional songs until the log excretes all its treats. It's hard to comprehend why this tradition hasn't caught on elsewhere.


Freshly prepared Mattak (Creative Commons: Lisa Risager)

Freshly prepared Mattak (Creative Commons: Lisa Risager)

6. Greenland: A Christmas dinner you'll never forget

Next time you find yourself complaining about granny's festive brussel sprouts, spare a thought for the poor tykes in Greenland. Each Christmas, they have to tuck 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



7. Guatemala: How clean is your house?

In Guatemala, cleanliness really is next to Godliness. Locals believe that the devil and other evil spirits live in the dark, dirty corners of your home. Therefore, they spend the week before Christmas sweeping up, collecting rubbish and then piling everything in a huge heap outside. Finally, an effigy of the devil is placed on top and the whole thing is set on fire.

It's called La Quema del Diablo, the 'Burning of the Devil'. The idea for Guatemalans is to burn all the bad from the previous year and start a new year from out of the ashes. 

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Main image: Christmassy woman holding lollipops (Dreamstime)

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