If you believe that Christmas is all about decorating trees, exchanging gifts, sipping hot chocolate, having a lavish feast and waiting for Santa to turn up with all the wrapped gift boxes, then you are wrong. Christmas is celebrated all over the world, and each part celebrates it in their own unique ways.
Here we have for you, some of the weirdest Christmas traditions followed by people from around the world.
Starting with our country, India, many people decorate mango or banana trees to celebrate the spirit of Christmas. Many do buy artificial Christmas trees and decorate those with baubles and other decorative things.
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In Germany, a pickle is hidden underneath the tree. The child who finds it gets a special little gift. Also on the night of December 5, little kids leave their shoes outside, and in the morning it is filled with candies and gifts.
Much like Indians, who consider basil holy, people of Greece use these leaves to ward off the evil. They tie it around the cross and sprinkle the holy water around the house to ward off the underground-dwelling evil goblin race, Kallikantzaroi. They exchange gifts in January 1, St. Basil’s Day.
Latvian Christmas is a bit like the festival of the fall, that is, Halloween. During this time, ‘mummers’ or people dressed up with animal masks get gifts in exchange of blessings.
It is steam and sauna for the people of Estonia. They believe that they can come closer by enjoying the sauna together, rather than having a meal on the same table.
In Japan, the colour of this festival is white and not red. The cards and gift cards are all sent in white colour. Apparently, they use red to send funeral announcements, so they avoid this colour on the occasion of merriment. In 1974, there was a massive campaign run by KFC and ever since, it has become a tradition in Japan to visit the KFC on Christmas.
It is a general saying that only nice kids get gifts as Santa avoids all the naughty ones. In Austria, people have taken this to a step further. If a child has been naughty, then Santa brings along his devil-like Krampus, to scare the kids. Folklores!
Just like Latvia, Norway’s style of Christmas is Halloween-y. They believe that it is the night when evil spirits come on the earth, steal and ride on broomsticks. In order to prevent them from doing so, people hide all kinds of brooms in their house. Legend has it, that a mythical creature named Nisse brings gifts for everyone.
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In Italy, a female version of Santa, Bafana, the good witch, rides a broom and awards the children according to their behaviours throughout the year. They get gifts, if they have been nice. If they have been bad, coal, onions and garlic are the rewards. Italian parents, instead of milk and cookies, keep wine for her.
Ukraine has a very sweet story behind their heart-warming Christmas tradition. According to their tales, once there was a poor, but hard-working widow, who could not afford to decorate the Christmas tree, and her children slept with a broken heart. However, the widow covered the tree with cobwebs, which looked silver and gold as soon as the sunlight hit it in the morning. People still put artificial cobwebs on their trees thinking that it will bring them good luck.
From December 16 to 24, the people of Caracas (capital of Venezuela), roller skate their way to attend the morning mass. No buses and cars can be on the roads during this time, so that people can skate on their way to the church. In order to wake up on time, children tie a string of thread to their big toe and the end of the string is hung out of the window. Any passer-by who sees the string will pull it in order to wake up the sleepy heads.
#12. Czech Republic
The Christmas tradition that the people of Czech Republic follow is quite harsh on the single ladies. They stand outside with their backs to the door, and throw a shoe over their shoulder. If the tip of the shoe faces the door, then she can look forward to getting married in the following year. Another tradition goes like this- someone who does not give gifts on Christmas will face poverty the coming year.
In Serbia, it is a tradition that two Sundays before Christmas the children tie their mothers in the morning, and ask them for gifts as a barter for her freedom. They do the same with the father on the next Sunday. It is a cool way to get what you want if you too are a wicked soul.
In some of the Scandinavian countries, a gnome-like character called Tomte protects the barns. He is believed to bring the presents too. As a token of appreciation, children leave a bowl of porridge for him.
Australians celebrate Christmas under the sun as it is summertime there during December. So, their Christmas traditions are literally poles apart. They enjoy a barbeque on the beach, and their Santa rides on the kangaroos. In 1977, they released a stamp called Surfing Santa, where Santa is riding on the wave in shorts.
A Christmas feast in the Greenland means eating a delicacy called Kiviak. 500 auk birds are wrapped in sealskin, buried under a stone for seven months and fermented. Slices of raw whale skin is another delicacy, taken with blubber.
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Brazilians strongly believe that on the Christmas eve, animals get the power to talk. They also present their gifts to the children in shoes and not in stockings.
The Polish people celebrate Christmas with a massive 12-course meal. They put a piece of iron under the dinner table with the hope that it will make the legs of the people strong.
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It is believed that the Yule cat, which is a beastly creature, haunts the hills of Iceland. If you do not receive new clothes before Christmas, then this cat will haunt you. A great excuse for shopping. Also, there are supposed to be 13 Yule Lads instead of a Santa.
#20. Great Britain
We all know that Christmas without Christmas pudding is incomplete. In Great Britain, every member of the family is supposed to stir the mixture of the Christmas pudding clockwise at least once. They can wish for anything while doing so.
We live in a diverse world with countless traditions everywhere. Some of them seem bizarre to you because you are used to a different way of doing the same thing. At the end of the day, Christmas is about family, love and spreading joy. Merry Christmas, guys!