12 crazy cultural traditions for the festive period
We’ve all got little things that our family do each year during the Christmas period: leaving mince pies and carrots for Santa and his reindeers, hanging stockings and our love of red. Our little traditions all tie together to form the British Christmas.
But it’s not all big, bearded guys in red suits and this time of year. Here are just a few different Christmas traditions from around the world…
1) Germany and Austria
You may know this as a film, but the legend of the Krampus is oh too real for the children of Germany and Austria. The Christmas devil is hairy, hooved and horned; spending his time punishing children that have been naughty this year.
The Tió de Nadal or poo log is a well known in Catalonia.
The smiley piece of wood is put on the dinner table on the fortnight leading up to Christmas, covered in a blanket and “fed” fruit, nuts and sweets every night. Then, on Christmas Eve, children beat the log with sticks in the hope he will poop out Christmas gifts during the night.
Thanks to an amazing advertising ploy in the 1970’s, it’s tradition for Japanese households to dismiss a turkey feast and head to KFC for their Christmas dinner.
Move over Santa, the Befana is in town. Italian children believe that their presents are delivered by the good witch on Epiphany Eve – just like Father Christmas does over here.
In Greece, households fear the Kallikantzaroi. These little guys are sort of the Gremlins of Christmas. They’re believed to appear on Christmas day, to cause trouble throughout the “Twelve Nights”.
The people of Greece always make sure that their Yule Log is lit to keep the kallikantzaroi away.
In Guatemala, it’s customary to sweep your house on Christmas Eve. The dirt from the house is piled in the front garden and a small effigy of the devil is put on top. By lighting the pile on fire, it’s believed that you’re getting rid of the bad luck, ready for the next year.
In Caracas, from December 16th to the 24th, streets are closed to allow its residents to roller skate to morning mass.
The goat has long-standing symbolism in both Swedish and Nordic culture. Until the early 1960’s, a straw goat is used as a Christmas decoration.
The Gävle Goat is the first of the large farmyard animals to appear in Swedish city centres. Though, the real tradition here isn’t the goat itself.
Ever since then, large straw animals have been placed in public places; they have a tendency to be set on fire. The original Gävleboken was burnt down a total of 27 times in 49 years, as well as some other unfortunate mishaps along the way… giving him a survival rate of just 38%.
The head of Slovakian families throws a spoonful of the traditional Christmas food Loksa at the ceiling. The more of the rich mixture that sticks, the better his crops will be for the following year.
An additional place is laid at the table at Christmas dinner in Portugal. The holiday period time is considered a time of remembrance; the empty seat is left for relatives that have passed – inviting them to join the feast.
11) Czech Republic
Giving Christmas a Cinderella sparkle is the Czech Republic. If an unmarried woman stands by a door and throws a shoe, the direction the toe is facing is said to predict the future of her love life. If it’s toward the door, they’ll be married during the next year.
Tinsel is a no-go on the Ukrainian Christmas tree. They forgo the usual colourful decorations and instead hang a pretend spider, complete with a sprawling spider web.