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Christmas is a holiday that is embraced all around the world and although it started as a Christian celebration it’s now a festive season that is celebrated by all. Santa Claus, snowmen and presents under the tree are still very prominent wherever you are but alongside these traditional celebrations, if you dig a little deeper, you’ll discover some very different Christmas traditions that take place around the world.
Here are some of the most bizarre Christmas traditions from around the world.
Forget Turkey! In 1974, KFC ran a marketing campaign in Japan that changed Christmas in the island country forever. The campaign was titled ’Kentucky for Christmas’ and it worked maybe a little too well. Sales increased by about 500% during December. Now, on Christmas Eve and Christmas day, KFC is an annual Japanese tradition and you will often see queues out the door and the staff dressed up as Santa.
Scandinavia is known for its exotic Christmas traditions and one of the most famous is the Christmas Goat. This is a symbol that is popular in both Norway and Sweden. In Gävle, a town in Sweden, a giant goat made of straw is built in the town square. For some reason, the Swedes see this as a tempting target and the bookies take bets on how long it will take before someone finally torches the goat.
Whilst most kids around the world get excited for Christmas because of the friendly fella Santa that comes down the chimney, in Austria things aren’t so innocent. A ghoulish creature called Krampus, who is identified as the evil accomplice of Father Christmas is said to wander the streets looking for badly behaved children. So, if you’re going to Austria during the month of December be aware of the masked figures that might creep up on you when you least expect it. The people of Austria take it upon themselves to bring this fantasy to life with ghastly pranks and terrifying masks. Sounds more like Halloween than Christmas to us!
When decorating your Christmas tree you think, baubles, tinsel and stars on top, right? Well, not in Ukraine. This strange Christmas tradition involves decorating their Christmas trees in a formation that resembles a spider’s web. The tradition originated from a folktale about a poor widow that couldn’t afford to decorate her tree for her children. It’s said that spiders then took pity on her and her family and spun shimmering webs all over the tree to make it look beautiful when the children awoke on Christmas morning.
This could potentially be one of the weirdest festive traditions you might come across. A giant cat is said to roam the snowy countryside at Christmas time in Iceland and it’s traditional for everyone to wear new clothes to avoid distasteful fate. This all came about because farmers used to use the Yule cat as an incentive for their workers. If they worked hard, they would be gifted a new set of clothes but if they slacked, they would be devoured by the giant beast.
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