We’re sure that you each have your own family traditions when it comes to Christmas. Chocolate for breakfast? Bucks fizz with your Christmas lunch? Family board games in the evening to get the kids away from those screens? If not, it’s never too late to start your own Christmas traditions. Why not take inspiration from these unusual Christmas traditions from across the globe?
The glass pickle
Our first stop around the globe is Germany. One of their many lovely traditions is hiding a glass pickle somewhere on the tree. The first child to spot it on Christmas morning gets a special prize, and will have good luck for the rest of the year!
Japan have perhaps one of the most unusual traditions for a country that doesn’t really celebrate Christmas. However thanks to a rather successful advertising campaign back in 1974, KFC has become the Christmas Eve dinner staple.
Tió de Nadal
In Catalonia, Spain, they have an unusual tradition which centres around a wooden pinata of sorts. This little guy is known as Tió de Nadal, or sometimes Caga Tió, which literally translates as ‘pooping log’. The Tió de Nadal is a hollow log with stick legs, which is decorated with a face and half covered in a blanket, and the children are encouraged to feed him sweets throughout December. Sounds innocent enough, right? Until Christmas Eve that is, when the poor log is beaten with sticks until the treats magically fall out of him. Afterwards the log is thrown on the fire for warmth.
Night of the radishes
The Night of the Radishes, or Noche de Rabanos, is a Mexican tradition. This involves arranging radishes into a lavish display, often with carved characters. The event has even been turned into an annual competition! These radish displays can only be on show for a few hours, as they start to wilt after being cut.
St Nicholas Day
Why wait all month to receive your Christmas presents? In Germany, they like to celebrate St Nicholas’ Day on the 5th December. In the evening the children take care to polish their shoes, and leave them outside. In the morning they wake up to find their shoes filled with little gifts brought along by old Saint Nick himself. Why not get your kids to do the same with their Treads, and fill up their shoes with sweets and small gifts to get them in the Christmas spirit?
Another Catalonian tradition surrounding bowel movements is that of the caganer. This is a little figurine of a pooping man, who the Catalonians like to hide among their nativity scenes. No one really knows where this figure came from, but he has become a staple for them at Christmas.
The Mari Lwyd is a Welsh tradition which dates back centuries. A horse’s head is mounted on a stick and decorated with bells and ribbons, as well as a blanket so as to hide whoever carries the Mari Lwyd, to give the illusion that the horse’s head moves on its own. This is something that the whole community will get involved in, as the Mari Lwyd and its company move from house to house asking to be let in for food. The Mari Lwyd will ask in song, and it is generally expected that the house owner will deny them entry in song; they continue in this manner until the Mari Lwyd and its party are allowed in for food.
Back in Germany, it’s not being on Santa’s naughty list you want to watch out for – it’s his nefarious little helper. The devilish character Krampus follows Santa around to punish those who have misbehaved throughout the year. Let’s be honest, you wouldn’t really want to misbehave if you thought this scary guy was going to pay you a visit, would you?
Day of the little candles
Perhaps one of the lovelier Christmas traditions is celebrated in Colombia. The day of little candles involves placing candles and paper lanterns in windows, front gardens, and balconies, and neighbours will compete to put on the most impressive display.
Spider web tinsel
Ukraine like to decorate their trees with fake spider webs, thanks to a lovely old folk tale. The story tells the tale of a housewife who wept because she couldn’t afford to decorate the Christmas tree for her children. A watching spider took pity on her, and decorated the tree with her own silver web instead to surprise the little family on Christmas morning.
The Italians don’t believe in Santa Claus. Instead, they believe their gift giver to be the Epiphany Witch, also known as Le Befana. The Epiphany Witch travels across the country on her broomstick, delivering presents to all the good children; the naughty ones only have a bag full of ash to look forward to.
Do you have any unusual Christmas traditions of your own with your kids? We want to know all about it on our Facebook page!
Lead image: Chad Madden.