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Unusual Christmas Traditions from around the World

Cultures from across the globe celebrate the holiday season in many different ways, each bringing their own traditions to the table. We’ve discovered that some of the rituals that people carry out each year are quite unusual to the common spectator. Here’s a roundup of some of the most unique Christmas traditions: from scary goat creatures to rollerblading parades to church, we cover everything from the weird to the downright nonsensical.

A Goat on Fire

The origins of using the goat as a symbol of Christmas festivities is debated, however, many believe that it is rooted in Pagan traditions. Goats appear to be a common theme when it comes to Swedish Christmas décor, as the animal emblem is hung on doors and trees and used to spread the Yuletide joy.

In the Swedish town of Gävle, about 160 km north of Stockholm, a 13-meter, three-ton goat is constructed out of wood and straw and erected in the marketplace to mark the beginning of the Christmas festivities. This is known as the Gävlebocken (Gävle goat) and is something which the town has been doing since 1966. Despite the time and effort taken to construct the structure, it doesn’t have a high chance of surviving into the new year. As part of the tradition, residents attempt to burn down the creature each year as the rest of the population waits to see if they are able to succeed.

Hide Your Brooms

The Norwegians take superstition to a new level on Christmas eve. It’s said that on the day before Christmas, people across the country should hide their brooms in their closets, as evil spirits and witches awake on this night and will take them to ride across the country if they are not hidden. We recommend saving any unnecessary cleaning until after the festivities are over, as you wouldn’t want anyone taking your precious broom on a joyride, now would you?

The Krampus Is Calling

The tradition of the Krampus dates back a several hundred years and is still prominent in a number of European regions today, including Austria and parts of Bavaria. This creepy creature is said to be the evil counterpart to St. Nicolas, who, instead of rewarding wellbehaved children, is the one responsible for punishing the children who misbehave. On 5 December each year, people prepare themselves for Krampusnacht (Krampus night). On this occasion, men and boys dress up as the Krampus, wearing scary masks and fury, goat-like suits. They roam the streets in a Krampus parade with sticks and whips, as spectators offer schnapps and goad them on their procession. With its half-goat, half-demon body, adorned with rams’ horns and a whip, this creature will definitely haunt you in your nightmares.

Rollerblading to Mass in Venezuela

If there’s one method of transportation which allows you to roll up to church in style, it’s rollerblading. Residents in the city of Caracas swarm the streets on Christmas eve to make their journey to Christmas mass. This is a tradition which goes back several generations and is said to inject some excitement into the festivities while the rest of the world sleds across the snow. Roads are even cordoned off to allow for a safe trip to church with minimal casualties.

Kentucky Fried Christmas in Japan

Over the past few decades, KFC has become synonymous with a Christmas Day feast in Japan. It’s estimated that 3.6 million Japanese families treat themselves to this type of fast food on Christmas Day. This is a surprising statistic considering the holiday has only recently become a recognized and popular time for celebration in the Japanese culture. The unusual tradition of eating KFC for Christmas started in the 1970s with a new marketing campaign called Kurisumasu ni wa Kentakkii (“Kentucky for Christmas”) and immediately took off. Today, families still gather around on Christmas Day for some quality time together at the dinner table, all while enjoying some delicious deep-fried chicken!

Have you ever participated in one of the traditions mentioned above? Or do you celebrate Christmas in another unique way? Share your experience on our Facebook and Twitter pages!

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