5 Strangest Christmas Traditions In The World
Christmas is one of the most festive times of the year across the globe, as millions of Christians around the world come together to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ and reaffirm the values taught by Christianity. For centuries now, Christmas has been associated with bright lights, beautiful decorations, giving and receiving gifts, wine and a great feast. In short, it’s come to be synonymous with joy, light, togetherness and happiness.
However, different interpretations of the religion and occasion, worldwide, have resulted in different celebrations and traditions in different regions. While Christmas is Christmas, some of the traditions and practices in different parts of the world may shock you! Let’s take a look at some of the most unusual Christmas traditions in the world.
i) Japan: Kentucky Fried Christmas
In 1974, KFC Japan launched a campaign for Christmas: “Kentucky for Christmas”. This gave birth to a tradition that is still going strong today! KFC offers incredible deals in the festive season, and you’ll very likely need to book a table if you’re looking to visit KFC this December in Japan! KFC stores in Japan get very crowded on Christmas Day, and the spirit of giving, receiving and sharing – the spirit of Christmas – has come to be synonymous with Colonel Sanders’ greasy goodness, for the people of Japan at least.
ii) Austria: Krampus
In the West, St. Nicholas, or Santa Claus, is a popular legend – a jolly man who takes joy in giving children around the world gifts and a very Merry Christmas. But if you’re from Austria, you may be more familiar with his alter ego – a much darker, creepier being – Krampus.
Krampus serves as the anti-Santa, a demonic-looking figure that goes after bad children and drunks. While different kinds of Krampus-based events are held throughout Austria, the biggest is the Krampus Parade, where rows of people dressed as Krampus attend. The European legend wrote of Krampus as an ‘evil’ sidekick of St. Nicholas, instilling fear in many children. The eerie parade stands out from more jolly Christmas traditions around the world!
iii) Venezuela: Roller Skates to Mass
One of the festival’s coolest traditions takes place in Caracas on Christmas Day every year. People go to mass on Christmas morning on roller skates! It’s grown over the years to have a huge following, to the extent that traffic police close off certain roads on Christmas morning to keep the skaters safe.
iv) Guatemala: Burning the Devil
Every year on December 7, to coincide with the Feast of Immaculate Conception and to kick off Christmas celebrations, the Guatemalan people sweep out all the dirt in their house and gather trash together in a single pile. Placing an effigy of the Devil on top of the pile, around half a million firesare lit every year on this date at precisely 6pm.
With changing composition of trash, a large proportion of these bonfires today involve burning plastics, resulting in release of toxins and carcinogens into the atmosphere. The government, as a result, has requested a reduction in this tradition due to the risk of environmental issues
v) South Africa: Fried Caterpillars
Let’s not forget the food! Christmas delicacies are often the most exciting part of the festival, with turkey in the United States and Christmas pudding in the United Kingdom, but for South Africans, they have their own Christmas special – fried caterpillars. Yes, you read that right! Called the Christmas Caterpillar or the Pine Tree Emperor Moth, it’s garnished beautifully and is believed to grant extra luck to anyone who eats it.
These Christmas traditions may seem bizarre or a culture shock, but they add to the unique charm of the celebration and to the mystique of the festival. For those who love travelling, do try and visit one of these countries this Christmas or the next to experience how the other half lives, as it were, and some of the different kinds of Christmas celebrations this world holds. It would certainly be an eye-opener!