Weird Christmas Traditions from around the World

With only a handful of days to go until December 25th, it’s time to really get yourself in the festive spirit by reading up on these strange Christmas traditions from around the world. From bizarre Christmas feasts  and icy cold swims to uncommon tree decorations and terrifying anti-Santas, these unusual customs are sure to open your eyes and make you realise that your traditional family Christmas lunch isn’t actually as bad as you thought.

Weird Christmas Traditions from around the World: Fried caterpillars for dinner in South Africa
Fried caterpillars for dinner in South Africa via Flickr

Weird Christmas Traditions from around the World

South Africa

Instead of enjoying a plump turkey, juicy goose or delicious loin of roast beef on Christmas Day, locals in South Africa dig into plates full of deep-fried caterpillars of the Emperor Moth.

Weird Christmas Traditions from around the World: Pickle decoration on a Christmas tree in Germany
Pickle decoration on a Christmas tree in Germany via Flickr

Germany

Germans decorate their Christmas trees a bit differently to you and me. Whilst we’re likely to cover ours in sparkling tinsel, twinkling lights and brightly-coloured baubles, locals in Germany, traditionally decorate their tree with artificial spider webs and even fake silver spider ornaments – but that’s not the weirdest part. It’s also traditional in Germany to hide a real pickle somewhere in the tree on Christmas Eve and to reward the child who finds it on Christmas morning with an extra present.

Weird Christmas Traditions from around the World: Swimming in the sea in the UK on Christmas Day
Swimming in the sea in the UK on Christmas Day via Flickr

United Kingdom

If there’s anywhere in the world you wouldn’t want to go swimming during winter, it’s probably somewhere in Europe, but try telling that to the numerous swimming clubs who rush into the icy Atlantic waters around the UK every year on December 25th. For decades now, swimming clubs and enthusiastic onlookers have been known to run along the freezing-cold sands of beaches up and down the UK wearing nothing but their swimming gear and a Santa hat and go for a swim in the waters which can be as cold as 10°C/50°F.

Weird Christmas Traditions from around the World: Krampus organised run in Austria
Krampus organised run in Austria via Flickr

Austria

Whereas most children are bribed with the offer of presents from Santa Claus into behaving well in December, children in Austria are scared into not behaving badly with threats of visits from Krampus. This made-up character is a beast-like creature who is basically the anti-Santa Claus. Not happy with solely scaring children with a story, some adults go one step further and dress up as the beast for an organised run throughout the streets of Austria which takes place each year at the beginning of December.

Weird Christmas Traditions from around the World: Stack of Caga Tio logs in Spain
Stack of Caga Tio logs in Spain via Flickr

Spain

Spain is proudly home to what is quite possibly one of the most weird Christmas traditions from around the world. Every year from December 8th, families in Catalonia (that’s the area around Barcelona) bring out the “Caga Tio” – a small log with a smiley face painted or glued onto the front of it. The children are in charge or taking care of the log by keeping him warm under a blanket and feeding him sweets every day to ensure he is big and fat by December 24th. On Christmas Eve after a large family feast, the children beat the “Caga Tio” with sticks and sing a song which translates into:

“Caga Tio hazelnuts and turrón,

If you don’t want to poo,

We will hit you with a stick.”

The children then reach under the blanket which covers Caga Tio and discover a treasure trove of small toys and sweets which are the results of the stick beating.

Weird Christmas Traditions from around the World: Snowman on a Caribbean beach
Snowman on a Caribbean beach via Flickr

If you want to experience some of these weird Christmas traditions from around the world  first hand, you’ve still got just enough time to get your flights and accommodation sorted in time for a Christmas getaway. We all know how unpredictable public transport can be at this time of year, whichever country you’re in, so save yourself time, money and hassle by renting a car, too.

About Nicola Quinn

Website: http://www.happyhealthymotivated.com

Nicola is a travel and food writer living in the Canary Islands who loves exploring far-off places, pushing herself to the limit and trying local eats wherever she goes.

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