With our first ever Christmas at The Collective Old Oak fast approaching, we’re curious to see if any interesting traditions arise. With a community as large and diverse as ours, we’re fairly certain they will! To get inspired, we had a look at unusual Christmas traditions from around the world — Yule never believe what we found! ;)
In Caracas, the Venezuelan capital, churchgoers travel to early morning services on roller skates throughout the festive period. Roads are even closed off in many areas before 8am to allow this peculiar tradition to take place!
2. Czech Republic
On Christmas Eve, Czech women perform a simple ritual to predict their love lives for the coming year. Tradition calls for unmarried women to stand with their backs to the front door and throw a shoe over their shoulder. If the shoe lands with the toe facing the door, the woman will get married within the next 12 months.
Forget turkeys and brussel sprouts, in Japan it’s customary to have a festive meal from KFC on Christmas Day.
Thanks to a successful advertising campaign that promoted fried chicken as the ultimate christmas feast, pre-orders for the Christmas Party Bucket have to be taken as early as October. Expect to be queuing out the door for Sanders Claus’ festive offerings.
Ukrainian Christmas trees are traditionally decorated with fake spiders and spider webs. This custom stems from the Legend of The Christmas Spider, an Eastern European folk tale. As the story goes, a poor family were unable to decorate their Christmas tree, but awoke on Christmas morning to find it covered in glistening spider web. This is also said to be the origin of using tinsel on Christmas trees!
Given the lack of pine trees in India, it is customary for families celebrating Christmas to decorate a banana or mango tree instead.
Probably the strangest tradition on this list is Catalonia’s Tió de Nadal (Christmas log). Tió is a hollow log with legs and a smiling face, who must be fed various goodies in the run-up to Christmas. On Christmas Eve, families beat the poor creature with a stick until he’s ‘pooped’ out all the treats — earning him the charming nickname Caga Tió, which politely translates to ‘poop log’. During the beating, families often sing a song of encouragement — 'Poop log, poop nougats, hazelnuts and cheese; if you don't poop well, I'll hit you with a stick, poop log!'
Norwegians also have a Christmas tradition involving logs, albeit one that raises fewer eyebrows. Families burn a Yule log in a tradition that dates back to an ancient Norse celebration of the return of the Sun at the winter solstice. The world ‘yule’ comes from the Norse word for ‘wheel’ — the Norse believed that the Sun was a great wheel of fire that rolled towards and away from the Earth through the year.
Nowadays you’ll also find edible Yule logs: log shaped cakes, desserts and cheese are common during the holidays.
The highlight of the festive period falls on Christmas Eve in Finland, when it is traditional for Finns to head to the sauna to bathe and relax before evening festivities. According to folklore, spirits of dead ancestors come to bathe in the sauna after sunset, so you’d better be quick!
9. Germany, Austria and Eastern Europe
If you think a lump of coal in your stocking is bad, you’ve yet to be introduced to Krampus. This chain-thrashing half-goat, half-demon figure is said to punish children who have misbehaved during the Christmas season. Sometimes Krampus appears with a sack or a basket strapped to his back... to cart off evil children for drowning, eating, or transport to Hell.
10. South Africa
If mince pies and vol-au-vents aren’t your thing, do as the South Africans do and snack on deep fried caterpillars on Christmas Day.
Written by Grace Waters