The season to be jolly is just around the corner! Some families have already started their Christmas shopping, be it the Christmas tree, decorations or christmas cards, you name it, they are selling fast in malls.
Christmas is time for us to spend with people we love and care especially after working and stressing all year long. This includes exchanging presents, singing some Christmas carols and just being merry.
However in some other parts of the world, Christmas is celebrated differently from the usual (or what we usually know or see!).
We would like to share some unique Christmas traditions or customs around the world. If you do have some strange or unique traditions in your family, do let us know in the comment box below!
Merry Licking Good (Japan)
The Japanese society is the epitome of tradition. They have been known to be very traditional in nature. Much of their way of life have even made its way into the corporate world, school curriculum and more. This has resulted in a weird association that the Japanese have of Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) with Christmas, all thanks to a smart marketing campaign held over four decades ago.
Back in the day, KFC was owned by automobile powerhouse and Japan’s own, Mitsubishi Corporation, who started to promote fried chicken as a Christmas meal when they realised the lack of tradition practiced by the Westerners.
Apparently a foreigner went into a KFC restaurant in Tokyo and said he had no other option but to eat chicken for Christmas Eve because it was impossible to find turkey there. Seeing as an opportunity, an employee told his supervisor it would be a good idea to promote KFC during Christmas as a substitute for turkey.
And guess what? The practice of having KFC for Christmas has been passed down from generation to generation! This ‘tradition’ has become so popular that you would have to order your meal in advance to enjoy it during the holidays, resulting to 5 to 10 times more sales than the usual monthly sales.
Definitely fingers licking good!
Skate To Service (Venezuela)
As city dwellers, we are so familiar with traffic congestions and the honking from vehicles on the road. Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to skate to certain places for a change without having to worry about being rammed over by an oncoming vehicle? Well, head on over to Caracas, the capital city of Venezuela!
From 16 December to Christmas eve, people can roller-skate to morning service. If you are wondering whether there have been any casualties or occurrences of people being ran over by cars on the road, the answer is no. This is because the streets are closed during this point of time to cater for the skaters.
Children on the other hand take things a tad bit further. Before bedtime, they would often tie a string to their big toe and hang it the other end of the string outside their window. When dawn breaks, skaters passing by would give that string a tug as a form of holiday greeting.
Spider Web Christmas (Ukraine)
I am sure we are all familiar with the ornaments and decorations that we put around the house and on our Christmas trees, your tinsels, fairy lights, baubles and more, but spider webs? That is something out of the ordinary, but not in Ukraine.
This peculiar practice even has a local folklore behind it. Legend has it, that there was once a woman who was too poor to decorate her Christmas tree and left it as it was. On Christmas morning, her children and her woke up to find that their tree had been covered with spider webs. Upon touching the first light of Christmas, the webs miraculously turned into silver and gold, granting the family wealth and changing their lives forever.
Today in modern day Ukraine, Christmas trees are decorated with fake spider webs as it is believed to be a sign of good luck.
Christmas Pudding (Britain)
We will start off by saying, we have tried this and we liked it! Christmas is always the time to be with the family and the people who we hold dear to our hearts. It is always fun to prepare food or pastries for the rest to enjoy during this festive season. In Britain, it has become a common practice but with a slight twist.
Christmas pudding or better known as plum pudding is a must during Christmas in Britain. Some families have even developed their own family recipes, in which they pass down from generation to generation. Generally, the puddings are black, due to the long cooking hours and the black sugar. Brandy or juice is added to the mix in order to attain the moist texture. It looks like fruitcake.
Traditionally, every member of the household would have a turn to stir the mixture clockwise while making a wish before it is baked and eaten. Earlier traditions, include placing an item in the mixture and stirring it. Whoever, finds that item in their pudding slice, would be granted a blessing that is associated with this item. A coin signifying wealth, ring signifying marriage, a thimble signifying good luck and more.
Anti-Santa (Germany & Austria)
When we were kids, we were told countless times to be at our best behavior all year long to receive presents from Santa Claus for Christmas. As we age further, we found out that in actual fact there is no such thing as Santa Claus but rather our parents who have been giving us presents.
In Germany and Austria, a somewhat similar folklore still exist among the locals. In fact, they believe in a much sinister entity.
Krampusnacht is celebrated on the 5 December, the eve of Saint Nicholas day. In these parts, people dress up as the demon Krampus, who is believed to be the evil counterpart of Saint Nicholas (Santa Claus ). His origins is from the Norse mythology, where Krampus is the son of Hel, the lord of the underworld.
Krampus, a half-devil half-goat is sent to punish children who have been naughty all year long by either kidnapping them in his sack or giving them coal instead of presents.
On the eve of Krampusnacht, people will dress up as the hairy long-horned mythical beast and parade the streets looking for others to beat with a stick. In Austria, there will be a processions held in the city of Hallein in Salzburg.
Catalonian Christmas Crappers (Spain)
Catalan traditions have always been unique yet less renowned, relative to their mainstream Spanish cousins, often coming off as weird to many. If you have had the chance to head over to Barcelona, you would realise the difference in the way the language and the signs are portrayed compared to the rest of Spain.
Even on Christmas, Catalonians have their own absurd practices, specifically one with a rather fecal-like theme.
Back to the 18th century, Catalans tend to hide caganers, a small defecating figurine, in Christmas nativity scenes and invite their friends over to try and find them. Traditionally, caganers resemble a peasant but modern day caganers resemble famous and well known figures such as celebrities and politicians.
Another one of their odd Christmas traditions is called Caga Tió, which means ‘defecating log.’ This is normally done by the Catalonians children. Tió represent the log with a painted face, legs, a hollow inside and sometimes even a hat. The Tió is then placed on the dining table for a fortnight leading up to Christmas.
Everyday the children would give it ‘food’ which come in the form of nuts, candies and fruits, and cover it with a blanket during the night so it does not get cold.
On the big day (Christmas), the Tió is partly placed over a fire and is ordered to poop, by beating it with a stick while singing traditional songs like the commonly sang Tió de Nadal.
CatchThatBus would like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas!