Strange Christmas Traditions From Around The World
Strange Christmas Traditions From Around the World
Christmas is a world-wide phenomenon, regardless of whether you choose to celebrate Christmas Day or Navidades; St. Lucia’s Day or Sviaty Vechir. With the rapid technological advancements of the 20th and 21st Centuries, many local traditions have now crept into international customs, with no-one exactly sure of where it is that they come from.
Of course, Christmas originates from Christianity. But ever since the believed birth of Jesus in Bethlehem over two thousand years ago, different Christmas practices, beliefs, superstitions and customs have emerged and developed as the celebration spread throughout the world.
Some festive traditions – like the character of ‘Santa Claus’ for example – have a pretty logical origin. The old man in the red suit firstly derives from the story of the three wise men bringing gifts to the baby Jesus and, afterwards, from the legend of the beloved Christian Saint Nicholas who used his whole inheritance to bestow gifts upon the local children and assist the poor, sick and suffering. Others, however, are a bit more bizarre. The following is a list of my Top 10 Strangest Christmas Traditions from Around the World.
1. Great Britain
Let’s start off with our own culture. One age-old British tradition dictates that each member of the family must stir the Christmas pudding mix in a clockwise direction before it's cooked, making a wish as they do so.
MORAL OF THE STORY: Always get help making the Christmas dinner. Wishes can be granted here, people!
TAKE INSPIRATION: If you’re thinking about making a traditional Christmas pudding this year, you should really try out this recipe from BBC Food. It’s absolutely incredible!
Believing the festive period to coincide with the arrival of evil spirits, Norwegians safely hide away all of the brooms in their house on Christmas Eve before they go to sleep to stop them being stolen by witches.
MORAL OF THE STORY: Cleaning is dangerous. Stay safe with mess.
TAKE INSPIRATION: Found on the Scandinavian side of the sea, Norwegians highly value amber for its warmth and colour. The resin is particularly versatile in terms of gifts, as it can be set into pendants, necklaces, bracelets and rings, and can be shaped into a variety of beautiful ornaments and carvings. Plus the warm orange colour of amber has a really cosy feel to it, making it a lovely present to give during the Christmas period. If I had to pick just one piece though, I really love this Amber and Silver Boat Ornament from online retailer The Amber Shop.
3. Czech Republic:
During the Christmas festivities, unmarried Czech women stand by a door and throw a shoe over their shoulder. They believe that if the toe is pointing towards the door when it lands, they will get married within the next year.
MORAL OF THE STORY: When in doubt, shoes.
TAKE INSPIRATION: Buy shoes! I’m loving these Carvela Antler court shoes from Kurt Geiger at the moment. And hey – ‘Antler’ is Christmassy, right?!
Catalonians celebrate the run-up to Christmas Day with the Tio de Nadal – known in English as the "pooping log". Decorated with a grinning face, hat and blanket, the log sits on the dining room table for the fortnight leading up to Christmas Eve: being ‘fed’ every day with fruit, nuts and sweets. On Christmas Eve, the log is placed halfway into the fire and beaten with sticks by the entire family while they sing festive traditional songs: forcing the log to 'excrete' its treats.
MORAL OF THE STORY: Erm…
TAKE INSPIRATION: Charming as this particular tradition may well be, for our rather more British festivities I’ve looked to another Catalan festival for inspiration – the springtime festival of Sant Jordi. During this celebration, women traditionally present men with the gift of a book, while men bestow roses onto the women. Two failsafe gift ideas right there.
In the capital of Caracas, it is customary to travel to early-morning Christmas mass on roller skates. Roads are even cleared deliberately to provide Christmas worshippers with a safe passage.
MORAL OF THE STORY: Wherever you’re going this Christmas, travel in style.
TAKE INSPIRATION: A really fun, family-friendly activity to do this (and every) Christmas is to go Ice Skating. As well as the stalwart indoor rinks that are dotted around the place all year long, Christmas often sees a number of open-air ice rinks erected in particularly festive locations. I know the Selfridges Trafford Ice Rink in Manchester is a really big success every year, and the Somerset House Outdoor Ice Rink looks absolutely gorgeous with all the Christmas lights and sparkle. There’s guaranteed to be a seasonal rink near you that’s adorned with festive lights and decorations to really get you and the family into the Christmas spirit. Red Online have compiled a list of the best open-air ice rinks across the country.
According to Greek legend, the Kallikantzaroi (a race of evil goblins) are said to lurk underground the whole year through. During the 12 Days of Christmas, however, they supposedly surface to wreak havoc upon the local residents.
MORAL OF THE STORY: Don’t knock our partridge in a pear tree.
TAKE INSPIRATION: I absolutely love books, and there’s loads of traditional festive-themed fairy tales that make for a really magical read with your children over the Christmas holidays. Some of my favourites include The Elves and The Shoemaker by the Brothers Grimm, The Last Dream Of The Oak Tree and The Snow Queen (the original inspiration for Frozen, FYI) by Hans Christian Anderson, and The Nutcracker and the Mouse King by E.T.A. Hoffman.
The Cuban city of Remedios plays host to the Parrandas festival every December. During this celebration, the city divides into two halves: each building a themed sculpture from light bulbs in preparation for Christmas Eve.
MORAL OF THE STORY: Be bright, bold and beautiful! When it comes to Christmas, you can never have too many decorations.
TAKE INSPIRATION: There’s loads of really great decorations to be found out there, but the Christmas Lights at John Lewis have really captured my attention this year. Smart and stylish, yet with a hint of rustic charm, many of the pieces in their collection are sure to make a wonderful addition to any style of home. And, as part of your overall decoration, why not try out some of our own seasonal wall stickers too? From Christmas trees to reindeer, snowflakes to sleigh-bells, we’ll be sure to have something that will add even more charm and creativity to your festive décor.
During a traditional Slovakian Christmas dinner, the most senior male member of the family takes a spoonful of loksa pudding and throws it at the ceiling. Apparently, the more that sticks the better.
MORAL OF THE STORY: Mess is good.
TAKE INSPIRATION: Get messy this Christmas and try a whole range of seasonal crafts, handmade gifts and D.I.Y. decorations to get you and your family into the festive spirit. This isn’t just a fun, family-friendly way to spend time together: it can also help you save money too! Check out The Ultimate Christmas Guide on the Silver Groves website for some amazing arts, crafts and baking ideas that will get yours and your family’s creative juices flowing this holiday season.
Modern-day Americans have created a boozy Christmas tradition called ‘The Running Of The Santas’, which they now market as ‘the world’s naughtiest bar crawl’. Each event sees scores of people all across the United States dressed as Santa running from bar to bar in a bid to consume as much alcohol as possible. Trust the Yanks.
MORAL OF THE STORY: Drunkenness is to be celebrated during the festive period.
TAKE INSPIRATION: Spice up the punch at your office party or put a little sparkle into the eyes of your dinner guests with some really great, innovative Christmas-themed cocktails this holiday season. My Top 5 Must-Have Christmas Beverages for any festive party are undoubtedly: Mulled Wine, Eggnog, Chocolate Orange Cocktail, Mince Pie Martini and the original Christmas Snowball.
Many Estonian families use the two-day sacred holiday of Christmas Eve and Christmas Night for the exclusive purpose of fortune-telling and receiving the spirits of their ancestors. As part of this, many families will traditionally head for the sauna together to cleanse their bodies and minds to help them become more receptive to their spiritual surroundings. This activity is also repeated on New Year's Eve.
MORAL OF THE STORY: Remember to kick back and relax this Christmas. As always, pampering should really take precedence.
TAKE INSPIRATION: Christmas can be quite a stressful time for most of us – what with frantically trying to remember everyone’s presents, battling through the crowds of Christmas shoppers on a day-to-day basis, and having a number of different seasonal parties and gatherings to attend. A spa trip is a great way to chill out, helping you to make the most of the upcoming festivities. It can also make a great gift for someone to enjoy in January as part of a post-Christmas detox. If you want the experience without splashing the cash, why not try out this homemade Spa in a Jar idea from Netmums?
Have you found a Christmas tradition out there that's even stranger than the 10 I’ve listed here? Are any of these celebrations going to make it into your festivities this year?! Share your thoughts with the group and let us know in the comments section below! Thank you so much for reading and, most importantly, Merry Christmas!