Family & Lifestyle

8 unusual Christmas traditions from around the world

When you think of Christmas Day in Australia, you probably think about Santa in board shorts, tinsel glittering in the sun, barbequed prawns, a game of backyard cricket or heading down to the beach with a boogie board. We definitely have our own ways of celebrating the holiday together.

But we’re not alone in having unusual traditions.

From a scary twist on Santa to deep fried goodness, we’ve rounded up 6 weird and wonderful Christmas traditions celebrated around the world. Check them out below:

1. Philippines

If you find yourself in the Filipino city of San Fernando on the Saturday before Christmas Eve, you may want to wear your sunglasses at night, Each year eleven local villages light up the night sky with a giant lantern competition as a way to celebrate Christmas. The tradition started in the 1900s when the lanterns were simpler, hand-made and lit by candles and part of a walking procession through town. Today the massive lanterns are complicated electric displays up to six metres in diameter. Winning the competition is a source of unity and pride for the village, and the festivities have put the city of San Fernando on the map as the ‘Christmas capital of the Philippines’.

2. Austria

You might have thought creepy costumes were reserved for Halloween, but that’s far from the case in Krampus, Austria. Introducing Krampus, a devil-like creature who roams the streets before Christmas, scaring naughty children.The naughtiest children are told Krampus will pop them in his sack and take them to the underworld unless they behave. We’d take a lump of coal over being kidnapped by a demon any day!

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3. Czech Republic

Don’t have anyone to kiss under the mistletoe? This Czech Republic tradition. Here’s what to do: On Christmas Day, stand with your back to the door, throw a shoe over your shoulder and if it lands with the toe pointing towards the door, then you may hear wedding bells in your future. Maybe watch where you chuck your shoe though, or you might find you’re an unexpected ‘hit’ with that friend of a friend you’ve been flirting with over the festive season.

4. Venezuela

When more than 70% of Venezuela’s population identify as Roman Catholic, you can be sure churches on Christmas Day will be well-attended. But what you might not expect, is that many of them to rollerskate on the way to mass according to the Metro UK. It’s so popular that local streets are closed off to traffic so everyone can slide, zoom and glide into their annual blessing safely as a group.

5. Norway

Pack up your brooms, the witches are coming! It’s traditional in Norway to hide any brooms in your house on Christmas Eve so that visiting witches and evil spirits don’t nick them to hitch a ride around town. While it sounds like the Norwegian’s have got Halloween and Christmas a bit mixed up, we’d welcome the chance to get out of cleaning the house for a day.

6. Ukraine

In the Ukraine, instead of decorating the Christmas tree with ornaments, according to, spiderwebs adorn the tree. The tradition has its roots in a folk story about a woman who had grown a tree inside her house but didn’t have money to decorate it. She woke on Christmas morning to find a tree covered in spiderwebs that shone gold and silver in the morning light. Spiders are thought to be lucky, and protectors of the innocent, so many Ukrainian Christmas decorations are shaped like spiders and their webs.

7. Japan

Up until a successful Kentucky Fried Chicken advertising campaign in the 1970s, Japan didn’t have much of a Christmas tradition. Less than 1% of the population identify as Christian, but KFC marketing gurus saw the opportunity to turn the festive season into a celebration of family and coming together over an easy meal. According to the BBC, these days around 3.6 million Japanese families eat KFC during the Christmas season.

8. South Africa

While fried chicken may be one unique way to serve up Christmas lunch, in South Africa they take it a step further by enjoying deep-fried caterpillars of the Emperor Moth when Santa comes to town. You can get the recipe from The African Gourmet if you want to spice your Christmas feast up.

We hope you enjoyed this list of weird and wonderful Christmas traditions around the world. Remember that there’s no ‘right’ way to celebrate with your family and friends. As long as you take the time to be thankful, you’re doing Christmas perfectly.

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