5 on the fly: unusual Christmas traditions from around the world

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by Sarah Halfpenny

We usually think of Christmas as a time of joy, with the warmth of familiar traditions. While many of us have cherished customs handed down through the generations, some countries celebrate the season with unique and bizarre practices. Here are five weird Christmas traditions from around the world that might just make you appreciate your own festivities a little more…

  1. Austria’s Krampus night

While most of us expect a visit from Santa, the naughty kids in Austria have a different, hair-raising guest – Krampus. On the night of December 5th, known as Krampusnacht, people dress as Krampus, a half-goat, half-demon creature, roaming the streets to frighten misbehaving children. This tradition adds a touch of fright to the festive season.

  1. Catalonia’s “Pooping Log

Forget about Santa Claus and his reindeer; in Catalonia, Spain, they have a different character stealing the spotlight – the Caga Tió, or the “Pooping Log.” Each December, families bring out a smiling log wearing a red hat and covered with a red blanket. They ‘feed’ the log treats leading up to Christmas. On Christmas Eve, the family gathers to sing songs and beat the log with sticks, encouraging it to, well, ‘poop’ small gifts and sweet treats.

  1. Japan’s KFC Christmas feast

In Japan, where Christmas isn’t a national holiday and only about 1% of the population is Christian, a different kind of tradition has taken root – devouring Kentucky Fried Chicken! Thanks to a successful marketing campaign in the 1970s, it became customary for Japanese families to indulge in a finger-lickin’ good KFC feast on Christmas Day. Many even pre-order their buckets months in advance.

  1. Ukraine’s spider web decorations

In Ukraine, it’s not tinsel or baubles that adorn Christmas trees; it’s spider webs. Legend has it that a poor widow and her children couldn’t afford decorations for their tree. When they woke on Christmas morning, the tree was covered in intricate spider webs that glistened like diamonds in the sunlight. Now, Ukrainians decorate their trees with spider web-inspired ornaments for good luck.

  1. Greenland’s whale blubber feast

In Greenland, Christmas isn’t complete without a festive meal featuring mattak, a dish made of raw whale skin and blubber. It’s a delicacy that locals eagerly anticipate. While it might sound unusual to many, it holds cultural significance, connecting the community to their Inuit heritage.

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