The Christmas period is well and truly in full swing, and people up and down the country are enjoying all those pre-Xmas traditions they have been accustomed to over the years. But how is Yuletide celebrated in further corners of the globe, and how different is it to the UK?
We’ve picked out 14 of the most bizarre ways other countries get their festive fix…
What? Shoe hurling
Where? Czech Republic
Each Christmas Eve, unmarried women in the Czech Republic stand at the edge of the front door of their house and hurl a shoe over their shoulder. If it lands with the toe facing the door, it’ll be wedding bells within the next year.
What? Eating KFC on Christmas Eve
Although Christmas isn’t recognised as an official holiday in Japan, a successful marketing campaign by KFC way back in 1974 spawned a national tradition that is still followed today. This involves Japanese families tucking into fried chicken on December 24th, though meal prices are at a premium (roughly £20pp) as it’s the popular fast food chain’s largest sales day of the year.
What? Adults dressing up as ‘Krampus’ – Santa’s evil accomplice
People don their best ‘Krampus’ (a horned half-goat) costumes each December whilst enjoying the many Krampus Parades across the country. Folklore suggests the character wanders the streets in search of badly-behaved children.
What? Laying out grains of corn
Single females seek to discover which of them will be next to tie the knot in Belarus around Christmas time by placing grains of corn in front of them. Local farmers then supply roosters and whichever woman gets her corn pecked first is said to get hitched soonest.
What? Eating fried caterpillars
Where? South Africa
Turkey, Christmas pud and mince pies are way to mainstream in South Africa, where people eat fried caterpillars instead. All who get their fill are thought to be extra lucky in the year to follow.
What? Hiding brooms
Don’t expect clean floors in Norwegian households on Christmas Eve! The locals believe it’s the one day of the year when mischievous spirits go in search of brooms to ride into the night sky, so hide them in a safe place to ensure they’re not stolen by morning.
What? Pickles on the Christmas tree
One popular, yet strange, German tradition involves placing a pickle somewhere on a Christmas tree – the first child to find it receives a gift.
What? Shoes by the fire
Where? The Netherlands
This tradition involves Dutch children placing shoes by the fireplace, hoping that Sinterklaas (Santa Claus to you and us!) will fill them with gifts in the night. Naughty kids will receive a potato however – similar to the ‘lump of coal’ ritual in the UK.
What? Stirring Christmas pudding clockwise
Perhaps not followed so much these days, an age-old tradition on these shores requires each member of a family to stir the Christmas pudding in a clockwise direction before it is baked – making a wish in the process.
What? Tying string to your toe
There isn’t much ice in Venezuela, which is why locals instead opt for roller skating, particularly when making their way to early morning mass in December. Young ones tie string to their big toes before bed and hang the end out of the window, ready for skaters the next day to tug as they go past.
What? Evil spirits lurking in saunas
Finland is home to more than two million saunas and legend has it that spirits lurk within them on Christmas day after sunset. Residents like to visit their nearest sweat lodge after enjoying an Xmas feed but head off before the sun goes down to ensure they avoid any unwanted encounters.
What? Laying places for the dead
Christmas is always a time to remember those unfortunately no longer with us, but in Portugal households keep places at the table set out for deceased family members.
What? Throwing loksa pudding at the ceiling
A tradition which dictates that loksa pudding is thrown at the ceiling, this is an action typically taken by the most senior man of the house. The more that sticks, the better!
What? Radish carving
Dating all the way back to 1897, Mexico’s annual radish carving competition happens across the city of Oaxaca throughout December. They’re usually made into figurines to catch the eye of passers-by.
Do you follow any bizarre Christmas traditions? Let us know by tweeting @icelollyholiday!