Every family seems to have its own Christmas traditions. In addition to putting up the tree and getting stuck in to a feast of turkey, some families have little traditions of their own. Some families let their kids open one present on Christmas Eve. Others play the same games every year or eat specific things. Most family traditions are similar to others, but the further around the world you go, the stranger the Christmas traditions seem to be.
So as you hang up your stockings and leave out your mince pies for Father Christmas, take a moment to consider the odd things other people are doing to celebrate Christmas.
10. A Steamy Christmas
In Estonia, families traditionally take a sauna together on Christmas Eve. After preparing the home for the festive celebrations, it is traditional to take yourself off for a nice relaxing steam.
9. Kentucky Fried Christmas!
In the 1970s, one successful marketing campaign ‘Kentucky for Christmas!’ changed the way Japan celebrated the festive season. It’s now tradition for many people in Japan to go to to KFC for their Christmas meal. Opting for ‘Christmas Chicken’, KFC in Japan now has the highest volume of sales on Christmas Eve!
8. Flaming Goats
In 1966 the town of Gävle came up with the idea of placing a huge 13 metre tall, 3 tonne version of the traditional Swedish Christmas goat of straw in the town square. Soon after, it was burned to the ground. The Gävle Goat has been erected to celebrate Christmas and burned down by vandals almost every year since.
7. Pick The Pickle
Traditionally, Germans hide a pickle in the Christmas tree on Christmas Eve. The first child to find it in the morning gets an extra Christmas gift.
6. Toilet Humour
For some strange reason, in Catalonia, depictions of the Nativity Scene include a figure known as the Caganer. A Caganer is a small figure of a defecating man!
5. A White Christmas… Card
In Japan, white Christmas cards are sent to friends and family. They tend to avoid the traditional Christmas colour of red, however, because it is generally reserved for funeral announcements.
4. Not Sprouts… Radishes!
Mexico is a bit light on sprouts at Christmas time. But during El Noche de Rabanos (The Night Of The Radishes, 23rd December), the radish-artists of Oaxaca carve remarkable characters and designs out of the humble radish.
3. Eight-Legged Decorations
The Ukrainians tell a Christmas tale of a family that was too poor to afford decorations. On Christmas Eve night, a spider spun webs throughout the tree that sparkled beautifully in the Christmas morning sunshine. Some say this is where the tradition of putting tinsel on the tree comes from.
2. Rolling To Mass
Christmas Mass is a tradition common in many Christian places. Singing hymns at Midnight Mass is a popular tradition in the UK. But in Caracas, Venezuela, they put an odd spin on the proceedings. They roller skate to early morning Mass!
1. Swimming Santas
Finally, we have a tradition that is a little closer to home, but just as weird. Not cold enough on Christmas Day? Go for a swim! Thought to have originated in Brighton, hundreds of people in the UK brave the frigid waters around our islands and go for an early morning dip! Brrrr!