December 6, 2023

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For the majority of Christians Christmas is a special, holy, magical and absolutely beautiful time. It is time for lushly decorated Christmas trees, small and nice gifts to all the dear ones, carol singers and old good Santa Claus. Some nations perceive this day in a different, sometimes bizarre way.

Have a look at these 9 traditions to learn how other peoples celebrate Christmas.

1. Japan

The Japanese are No1 on the list of the nations with the weirdest Christmas traditions because they have three of them at a time.

  • Santa Kuroshu (Japanese Santa Claus) is believed to have eyes in the back of his head to keep an eye on naughty kids.
  • Christmas cake in Japan is made up of sponge, whipped cream, chocolate and strawberries on top. They are ordered months in advance and are eaten on Christmas Eve. Cakes that were not sold before the January, 25th are unwanted. This is why single Japanese women of 25 and older used to be called Christmas Cakes.
  • Christmas cake of sponge sounds quite fine? OK, what about Christmas turkey from KFC fast food restaurant? Yep, it is a long tradition and already a must. Japanese buy the Colonel’s Chicken for decades and can’t imagine this holiday without it, every year raising monthly sales in Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurants in five-ten times.

2. Catalonia

Catalonians do not celebrate Christmas in fast food restaurants however their traditions are bizarre as well. They have a tradition of caga tió, or Tió de Nadal meaning Christmas Log. It is a hollow log on two or four stick legs with a smiling face and a little red sock hat. Beginning with December 8 one family member gives the tió something to “eat” every night and covers him with a blanket (so that he will not be cold). On Christmas Day or on Christmas Eve one puts the tió partly into the fireplace and orders it to defecate. According to the beliefs, it is how the tió brings presents. As nowadays fireplaces are not so common, Catalonians beat the tió with sticks singing songs of Tió de Nadal.

3. Germany and Austria

In these countries children are afraid of Santa’ evil associate, the Krampus who haunts streets in search of naughty children who behaved badly this year. This horned, hunch-backed monster beats those children with sticks or even chains. This legend which is wide-spread among Austro-Bavarian German-speaking Alpine folklore became the basis for a horror film released in 2015.

4. Greenland

Guess, which dish would Viking’s descendants consider as a Christmas delicacy? Exactly! It is mattak – raw whale skin with blubber, and kiviak – fermented auk (a small bird) wrapped in seal skin, then buried for seven months and eaten during the Christmas celebrations. Yummy!

5. India

The majority of Indians practice Hinduism, then goes Islam and only 2.3% of the population are Christians. But these 2.3% are equal to 25 million people. Indians celebrate Christmas with a midnight mass and present-giving, so what can be peculiar? Christmas trees. In the absence of fir trees or pines trees, they decorate banana and mango trees instead.

6. South Africa

Another Christmas delicacy to test yourself is found in South Africa. Traditionally, local people eat the deep-friend caterpillars of the Emperor Moth. How about surprising your guests with a traditional Christmas dish?

7. Iceland

Iceland is the homeland to one peculiar kitty - the Jólakötturinn or Yule Cat. It is not a soft little ball of fur but a huge and vicious monster from folklore who lurks about the snowy countryside and devours people who haven’t received new clothes for Christmas. This threat of being eaten by the Jólakötturinn was used by farmers to make their workers finish processing the wool before Christmas.

8. Latvia, Belarus and Ukraine

These Slavic peoples have a Christmas tradition of a pagan origin. Young people participate in mumming and wear masks of animals. Costumed, they go to other houses, sing traditional songs, play, read old poems which brings blessings to the households and frightens away evil spirits. Hosts, in their turn, give them candies, delicacies or, nowadays, money.

9. Canada

Do you have a dearest wish? Send it directly to Santa Claus and it will come true. Finally, we know his exact postal address – North Pole, Canada, H0H0H0 with zeros instead of the letter ‘o’. His elves (or if you are lucky enough, then Santa Claus) will reply to your letter and make your dream come true. For the past 30 years, Santa replied to a million letters every year written by children from around the world in different languages, including Braille.

Stay tuned for more amazing Christmas articles from MeetnGreetMe!

And what weird traditions do you have in your country?

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