Christmas is different in everyone’s homes and we all have our own holiday traditions, but perhaps there are some unusual Christmas traditions that you may not have heard of yet. Different cultures from around the world have some amazing traditions that you may not have heard of. Here are a few to inspire you this festive season... and you will perhaps introduce some of these unusual Christmas traditions into your own home!
The people of Sweden have some interesting and unusual Christmas traditions that you may not have heard of. On the 12th of December, special Christmas buns are baked in preparation for the following morning. The eldest daughter wakes up early to prepare breakfast for the family dressed in a long white dress, a red sash and a crown. On the crown, candles are lit (safety candles of course!). Once dressed, she serves a breakfast of buns, biscuits and drinks to the rest of the family. This may be an old fashioned tradition but the sentiment is quite sweet.
The people of Spain celebrate Christmas on the 24th and 25th of December by attending a Church service, exchanging gifts and eating festive food. This is a tradition that is held by many of us all around the world, right? The unique and adorable part of their celebration comes the following month. On the 6th of January they have another special tradition, where they celebrate the day the Three Wise Men arrived at Jesus’ manger, and now they come on camel-back to bring gifts to the Children of Spain. In anticipation of their arrival, children place shoes stuffed with straw (for the camels) on the windowsill. When morning comes, the excited children wake up to find that the straw had been replaced by sweets and little treasures. I love this tradition because it’s so innocent and not as commercialized as other traditions we all indulge in and enjoy!
Worryingly, this is my favourite Christmas tradition that you may not have heard of! Originating from German folklore, Krampus is a beast-like demonic figure who is the yin to St .Nicholas’ yang. In many Alpine-European countries, children were told that good children would be rewarded with goodies by St. Nick, whereas naughty children would be caught by Krampus and taken back to his lair! Traditionally, young men would dress up as Krampus on the eve of St. Nicholas day (December 5th) and then roam the streets frightening children with rusty bells ringing and rusty chains rattling. Not surprisingly, the Krampus figure was banned in Austria after the civil war of 1934. However, as are many gothic elements, the Krampus figure is making a revival in these European countries and people are once again celebrating their unusual cultural heritage, and Krampus is a figure that often appears in December. Now, if that doesn’t keep children in line, I don’t know what will! So, have you been nice, or have you been naughty?
Russian traditions may not be very different to ours, but the time they celebrate is. Christmas is not celebrated on the 25th of December, but rather on the 7th of January, a full 13 days after Christmas is celebrated in many western countries. The reason Russians celebrate on the 7th is that the Russian Orthodox Church follow the old Gregorian calendar, which corresponds to the 25th of December in the Julian calendar. So if you haven’t had your Christmas fix after the New Year hangover – then good news! You don’t have to wait another year - you can celebrate the Gregorian Christmas too!
5 The Nativity
Many European countries follow a particular tradition when it comes to decoration. Italy and Spain, they re-create the setting of Christ’s birth. A manger accompanied by figures of Mary, Joseph, the wise men, the donkey, the shepherds, the star and so on will be found in European homes. This is a nice Christmas tradition as it focuses on the true origins of Christmas rather that the more commercial side, which more often than not, is lost.
6 Czech Republic
This is a fun tradition that I’m sure you won’t have heard of (and will probably want to try after too much mulled wine!)! In the Czech Republic many single women attempt to predict their romantic future by using a traditional form of fortune telling. They predict their future marital status by standing at the door, back facing out, and throwing a shoe over their shoulder. If the shoe lands with the toe facing the door, the thrower is expected to be wed within the year. If the heel is facing the door, then it will be another unmarried year for her. Now, if you DO decide to give this fun tradition a go, may be best to do so out the back door – a show through your neighbour’s windscreen will not be an appreciated Christmas gift!
This is another entertaining unusual Christmas tradition! As you would expect in the largely Catholic Venezuela, the people of Caracas visit an early morning mass. Streets are closed to allow for the masses of people to attend these services, not by car and not by foot. People attend these services in a rather unusual way – on roller skates! But, believe it or not, the tradition is even more amusing. The night before the church goers skate past, children tie a piece of string to their big toes and hang the string out the window. As they whiz past, the skaters tug the toes of the children (via the string!) and they are woken for their Christmas morning!
These are just a handful of unusual Christmas traditions that can be found around the world! Everyone celebrates Christmas their own way, and of course many don’t celebrate Christmas at all. Whatever your style, whatever your beliefs, we all have our own special days and little traditions that are important to us! What are your favourite Christmas traditions? Will you be trying any of the above this year? I know I have a few in mind!