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Unusual Christmas Traditions Around the World: Weird and Wonderful Holiday Customs

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Unusual Christmas Traditions Around the World: Weird and Wonderful Holiday Customs

Watching a Christmas movie. Decorating a Christmas tree. Baking Christmas cookies. Singing Christmas carols. These are some of the most common holiday traditions. However, some countries have their bizarre but equally fun way of welcoming the season of giving.

The Pooping Log: Spain

Catalans celebrate the holidays with the presence of a peculiar character — Caga Tio or The Pooping Log. It’s a big chunk of wood with two or four sticks as legs. The end of the wood is painted. It also wears a barretina, which is a red sock that makes the log look like Santa.

Starting December 8th leading to Christmas Eve, Caga Tio is fed like a pet with the likes of dried fruits and nuts. On the night of the 24th, the kids sing Christmas carols next to a fireplace while beating the log with sticks. The highlight is when the log poops Christmas presents. It is a unique and fun way of giving and receiving gifts in Catalan culture.

La Befana: Italy

When you think of Christmas, you most probably picture Santa Claus. After all, this day is all about making kids happy with presents.

However, in Italy, there’s a different kind of Santa — La Befana. She’s an old woman with a broomstick who delivers gifts around the country. But she does not do it on Christmas Day. Instead, she gives gifts on January 5th, which is the Epiphany Eve. This is the end of the Christmas season, which Italy also celebrates as a national public holiday.

Krampus Night: Austria

Speaking of a different kind of Santa Claus, Austria has something more unique. Krampus is a darker version of the Santa we’re all familiar with. On December 5th, the Krampus Parade takes place. During this time, people roam the streets looking like a demonic creature. They have long, pointed tongues and horns.

According to local legends, this tradition warns children of the consequences of their bad behaviour. Krampus, the evil-looking Santa, will punish those who are bad.

The Christmas Pickle Hunt: Germany

From Frankfurt International Airport to the Muenster Central Terminal, there’s one reason to rush home in time for the festivities. Witness a unique sort-of treasure hunt where kids search for something hidden beneath a Christmas staple.

No doubt, Christmas trees are among the most obvious symbols of the holiday season. In Germany, however, there’s something unique about these trees. There’s a pickle hiding under one of its branches! The first child to find the pickle gets a special gift.

Christmas pickle

The Spider Web: Ukraine

Traditional Christmas decorations include fairy lights, shining balls, and festive candles. In Ukraine, however, there’s something bizarre that you can see during the Yuletide season — spider webs. One might even think of Halloween and not Christmas upon seeing these webs.

For most Ukrainians, these spider webs symbolize good luck and prosperity. However, according to folklore, this tradition started when a poor family found a Christmas tree in the forest. They could not afford Christmas decor. But on Christmas morning, they woke up to find the tree covered in cobwebs with gold and silver.

The Yule Lads: Iceland

A jolly old man wearing a red suit is a common Christmas symbol. But in Iceland, there’s a different character taking over the festivities. Meet the Yule Lads. They are mischievous creatures who visit children on the 13 nights that lead to Christmas Day.

Instead of hanging socks, children in Iceland leave shoes by the window. When they wake up in the morning, these shoes will have gifts. Good kids can find candies and chocolates, among other treats. On the other hand, those who have been bad will find rotten potatoes.

KFC Christmas: Japan

Mashed potatoes, turkey, and sugar cookies are among the most common foods people devour during their Christmas celebrations. However, in Japan, it’s part of the tradition to enjoy fast food, specifically, KFC.

In the 70s, KFC Japan launched a successful campaign that set the tone for the tradition many people still follow. It’s not unusual for people to book months before December 25th to secure their finger-licking good food to celebrate the holiday.

So, what Christmas traditions are you looking forward to experiencing? Even if you’re a non-Christian, there are plenty of ways to celebrate the Yuletide season around the world. The festivities are fun, but they can also be a headache, especially transportation. From Charles de Gaulle Airport to Schiphol Airport, or wherever you are, careful planning is the key! Plan ahead, spare yourself the nightmare, and enjoy the unusual Christmas activities around the world!