Weird Christmas traditions from around the world

Christmas has always been about family for me. I remember being so excited to get all 20(ish) of us into one room to celebrate the festive season, watch The Queen’s speech, and binge on sweets for the day. But the biggest tradition of the year was – brace yourselves for this – my dad hoovering the house on Christmas Eve.

Yep. That was the most exciting thing about that time of year. Housekeeping. Every year me and my brother would make sure our stockings were laid at the end of the bed, make a few traps to trip up Santa so we would wake up and see him, and then settle into our beds way too excited to sleep.

Then the hoover would strike up as my dad prepared the house for the mayhem tomorrow would bring – and I’d know that it was truly Christmas.

Sound weird to you? I agree it’s a little odd, so I asked some of my friends what their weird Christmas traditions were and got some great answers…

Katie: “We have this Japanese warrior doll that we call The Guardian and he looks over the fairy. We put him on the tree first so she is safe! My mum brought him back from a work trip so I’ve no idea if it’s a real tradition or just something we made up.”

Ellie: “We work every year (it’s a family restaurant, but we’re all together) so it’s hearing Bennie Hill’s ‘Ernie’ on Radio 2 around mid-morning while prepping the feast and decorating the tables.”

Jessica: “My mum makes me and my sister put our shoes in the lounge on Christmas Eve before we go to bed and then puts our presents next to our shoes.”

elf at christmas | this city life

A typical Christmas – the tree and Elf

Natasha: “In Malaysia St Nicolas (Dutch Santa) use to walk down the beach with reindeer and ‘Zwarte Pieten’ scattering tiny gingerbread biscuits which we use to fight to collect – they were delicious! The Zwarte Pieten were pretty terrifying.”

Brenda: “Just about every family in Sweden sits down after lunch on Christmas Eve (which is their Christmas) to watch Donald Duck on TV. The children can hardly contain themselves because when it’s finished Santa knocks on their door with the presents!”

Jennifer: “National Lampoon’s Vacation. Every year a mini family quote along sesh!”

Some of those are from different cultures, but it got me thinking about weird Christmas traditions from all over the world. Here are a few that caught my eye.

Norway // hiding the brooms

Christmas Eve for the Norwegians is when evil spirits arrive to steal their brooms and ride around town causing mayhem. They hide all the brooms in the house so the witches can’t steal them, and then carry on with singing Christmas carols and walking around the tree together.

Japan // a fried chicken feast

Japan has an amazing obsession with KFC because turkeys aren’t widely available in the country. Chicken is the next best thing and thanks to a KFC advert in the 70s defining chicken as a Christmas meal, it’s been tradition ever since. Christmas isn’t actually a national holiday in Japan either, but couples and families go in droves to KFC for a romantic or fun-filled meal together.

japan fried chicken | this city life

Caracas, Venezuela // skating to church

In Caracas, all the roads are closed on Christmas morning so churchgoers roller skate to Mass. Tradition is that little kids tie a piece of string around their big toes and hang the rest of it outside the window. When the skaters roll past, they tug on the string to wake the kids up!

Catalonia, Spain // the pooping nativity

In Catalonia, but not everywhere in Spain, many Catholics add ‘El Caganer’ (literally translated to ‘the crapper’) to their Nativity displays. The figurine wears the traditional Catalan red barretina and is shown to be pants down, pooping on the floor. I’m not entirely sure why this guy’s at the Nativity and what his dirty protest is for, but apparently the kids have a whale of a time trying to find him in the scene.

So there you have it, some wonderfully weird Christmas traditions from around the world. I’ve loved hearing all about my friends’ traditions and I’d love to hear even more. Tell me yours in the comments!

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21 Comments

  1. Jaklien
    1st December 2015 / 5:30 pm

    I love reading about different Christmas traditions. That pooping doll from Spain is just hilarious.

  2. 1st December 2015 / 7:09 pm

    What a quirky selection of traditions! I love that roller skating idea – no public transport is a good way of making the day different and very much the sabbath

    • 4th December 2015 / 10:39 pm

      Exactly, it’s such a cool thing to do with the community too. Bet it’s such a nice atmosphere.

  3. 2nd December 2015 / 4:25 pm

    Fights for gingerbread biscuits, I’d totally knock people down for that.

  4. 2nd December 2015 / 7:08 pm

    How about lugging Christmas trees on public transport? The looks we always get from drovers/fellow passengers are hilarious!

    • 4th December 2015 / 10:38 pm

      Hahaha! Have you done that this year? Please say you took photos…

  5. 2nd December 2015 / 7:59 pm

    HAHA I love all the odd traditions. I was trying to think of weird traditions my family does, but they all seem so normal to me, although a newer tradition that has developed is heading to all-you-can-eat sushi Christmas eve.

    • 4th December 2015 / 10:37 pm

      Sushi on Christmas Eve! Now that I really can get on board with…

  6. 3rd December 2015 / 12:19 pm

    Some of those are so strange! I could never imagine KFC being a romantic meal!

  7. 3rd December 2015 / 2:46 pm

    Wow, how awesome these weird traditions are! That roller skating tradition sounds like a great idea!

    • 4th December 2015 / 10:36 pm

      Tempted to try that next time I need to be up for a flight – ask my neighbour to pop out and pull me out of bed!

  8. 3rd December 2015 / 3:53 pm

    That is so bizarre about KFC and Japan for Christmas! So random!!

    • 4th December 2015 / 10:35 pm

      It’s so weird isn’t it! The power of advertising (and no native turkeys), eh?

  9. Kelly Michelle
    6th December 2015 / 9:09 am

    Haha I love that your dad hoovers on christmas eve; it’s not officially christmas until mum has a meltdown on christmas day and cancels christmas…then we know it’s christmas!

    xx

    Around the World in 80 Pairs of Shoes

  10. 7th December 2015 / 1:16 pm

    The Queen’s Speech!!! How could I forget? Really looking forward to watching it here with my American family this year! Such a great round-up post! I loved reading about these traditions.

  11. 7th December 2015 / 5:08 pm

    I am fascinated by the strange and kooky customs from around the globe. The fried chicken thing might be the one I least understand.