20 Unique Christmas Traditions Around The World

Serena Tran, Freshman Writer

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Christmas time- a time for family, friends, food, gifts, and binge watching Christmas movies. Christmas only comes once a year, but there are many varying traditions around the world. Some of these customs may be customs you’ve never heard of before! So, without further ado, here are 20 unique Christmas traditions around the world.

1. South Africa: The festive South African delicacy is definitely not for everyone. On Christmas Day, locals consume deep-fried caterpillars of the Emperor Moth.

2. Norway: This is one tradition kids from all around the world may enjoy- on Christmas Eve, there’s no cleaning in Norway! All brooms are safely hidden away due to the fear that they will be stolen by witches and evil spirits.

3. Slovakia: On Christmas Day, the eldest man of the house takes a spoonful of loksa pudding and throws it at the ceiling- the more that sticks, the better.

4. Bavaria: In Bavaria, this noisy tradition takes place every year. Wearing the national costume of lederhosen, Bavarian Highlanders fire mortars into the air.

5. Cuba: Every December, the Cuban city Remedios hosts the Parrandas festival. The city divides into two halves, each building has a themed sculpture made from light bulbs, in preparation for Christmas Eve.

6. Guatemala: In contrast to Norway, Guatemalans sweep out their houses before Christmas. Each neighborhood will create a large pile of dirt, place an image of the devil on top, then burn it.

7. Latvia: In Latvia, a group of “mummers” dress in a variety of costumes and travel from house to house. Each household must give them a treat in return for a blessing.

8. Ethiopia: Ethiopians celebrate Christmas on January 7th. Locals wear white clothes, and the men play ganna, a fast-paced game with sticks and wooden balls.

9. Japan: Thanks to a campaign in 1974, on Christmas Eve, many Japanese families eat at KFC.

10. Venezuela: During the run-up to Christmas, Venezuelans attend mass. However, residents of Caracas journey to Mass on roller skates.

11. Greenland: During Christmas time, residents living in Greenland have many Christmas recipes. These recipes include Mattak, raw whale skin served with blubber, and Kiviak, 500 dead auk birds stuffed into a seal skin and left to ferment for 7 months.

12. Germany: Every year during Christmas Eve, Germans hide a pickle in the Christmas tree – the first child to find it in the morning receives a small gift.

13. Ukraine: Contrary to American decorations, instead of tinsels and baubles, Ukrainians decorate their Christmas trees with an artificial spider and web.

14. Czech Republic: In the Czech Republic, unmarried women stand by a door and throw a shoe over their shoulders. If the toe of the shoe is pointing towards the door when it lands, they will get married within the next year.

  1. Estonia: Estonian families traditionally head to the sauna together on Christmas Eve
  2. Wales: Every year on Christmas Eve, Mari Lwyd is performed in some Welsh villages.

A villager is chosen to parade through the streets holding the skull of a mare on the end of a stick.

17. China: In China, the small number of Christians call Christmas “Sheng Dan Jie”, which means Holy Birth Festival. They decorate their homes with evergreens, posters, and bright paper chains. They cut out red pagodas to paste on the windows, and light their houses with paper lanterns as well.

18. Sweden: In Sweden, a tradition involves festive rice pudding. A peeled almond is hidden in the dessert, and the person who finds it will, supposedly, be married within one year.

19. Great Britain: An age-old tradition in Great Britain indicates that each member of thefamily must stir the Christmas pudding mix in a clockwise direction before it’s cooked, making a wish as they do so.

20. Italy: Rather than Santa Claus, children in Italy wait for the arrival of Befena, a friendly witch who delivers sweets and toys on the fifth of January.