Weird and awesome Christmas traditions from around the world

Whether for religious reasons or simply for fun, Christmas is celebrated in some form or another in many countries around the world. These five countries have some unique traditions to make this holiday even more wonderful!

Santa’s evil twin Krampus scaring children (and adults) in Austria

Santa’s evil twin Krampus scaring children (and adults) in Austria

Austria

“Kids beware!”

Christmas may be jolly in North America, but in the folklore of the Austrian Alps, a Bad Santa takes the stage every year. This fearsome character’s name is Krampus: a half-man, half-goat demon whose legend has been around since pagan times, and whose Krampus Parade is now one of Europe's most popular festivals.

Traditionally, young men dress up as the Krampus in the first two weeks of December and particularly in the evening of December 5 and roam the streets frightening children (and adults) with rusty chains and bells.


Norway

“Hide your brooms!”

Christmas Eve (Julaften) is the big event for Norwegians and families gather to have their main Christmas feast and open presents on this evening. Singing Christmas carols is an important part of the Christmas traditions and for this family members join hands and walk around the Christmas tree. 

But for the superstitious, all the brooms in the house are hidden! Norwegians long ago believed that witches and mischievous spirits come out on Christmas Eve and would steal their brooms for riding.


Japan

Yummy fried chicken!

In Japan only around around 1% of the population is Christian, and Christmas is not an official holiday. But over the past few years, it’s become customary for the Japanese to tuck into a festive feast of KFC on Christmas Day. Thanks to a successful advertising campaign, KFC branches throughout Japan report that families will queue around the block to pick up their battered thighs and wings. The tradition has now become so popular that orders for the KFC Christmas Party Barrel are taken as early as October.


Colombia

“Light up the town!”

Beautiful lights light up the city for Dia de las Velitas in Colombia

Beautiful lights light up the city for Dia de las Velitas in Colombia

In Colombia, Christmas celebrations and preparations start on the evening of the 7th December which is known as 'Día de las Velitas' or 'Day of the little Candles'. Houses and streets are decorated with candles, lanterns and lots of lights. There are also big firework displays and music to dance to and foods like 'buñuelos' and 'empanadas'. This day is celebrated by Catholics around the world as The Feast of the Immaculate Conception but is especially popular in Colombia.

Venezuela

“Santa’s on roller skates!”

For locals in the capital of Caracas, it is customary to strap on your roller skates and glide to Christmas mass.

Rollerskating to church in Caracas, Venezuela

Rollerskating to church in Caracas, Venezuela

Every year between 16 and 24 December in Caracas, Venezuela, roads are closed to traffic to let people  roller skate to the early morning Christmas mass. On their way, skaters will tug on the ends of long pieces of string tied by children to their big toes and dangled out of the window, so they know when to wake up and put their skates on.

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