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The Strangest Christmas Traditions Around the World

Christmas Traditions Around the World: This is one of the best times of the year. For a few days, everyone lights up, people are happy and winter itself seems warm. There are many Christmas traditions around the world to celebrate this holiday, either religiously or simply to gather as a family. 

Christmas Traditions Around the World

Here is a selection of the strangest Christmas traditions in the world, which guarantee moments of celebration and good humor.

Christmas Traditions Around the World
Christmas Traditions Around the World

The Festival of the Giant Lanterns, Philippines

Do you want to spend Christmas all in the light? Go to the Philippines!

The Giant Lantern Festival ( Ligligan Parul Sampernandu ) is held every year on the Saturday before Christmas in San Fernando, the “capital of Christmas” in the Philippines. The festival attracts people from all over the world. Eleven barangays (villages) participate in this competition where everyone tries to build the biggest lantern. Originally, the lanterns were mere creations of about 50 cm in diameter. 

They were made of Japanese origami paper and lit with a candle. Nowadays, the lanterns are made of various materials and can reach 5m in diameter. The compositions are complex and illuminated with intermittent light bulbs such as kaleidoscopes.

The goat Gävle, Sweden

In 1966, a goat 13 meters high was built in the center of the town of Gävle, shortly before Christmas. This tradition has led to another of setting it on fire. Since 1966, the goat has been burned 29 times, the last dating back to 2016.

For the curious, it is possible to follow the progress of the animal as of December 1 through the web camera of the official website of Gävle.

Krampus, Austria

Krampus is a demon that frightens children before Christmas, one of the strangest Christmas traditions.

A demon-like creature that chases children in the streets, scares them and punishes those who have not behaved well … No, it’s not Halloween, but Krampus is the demonic equivalent of St Nicolas. In the Austrian tradition, St. Nicholas rewards good children while Krampus kidnaps and locks up those who do nonsense. On December 5, a day before the San Nicolás pass, the young men put on wooden masks and beast skins to announce their sinister step with great bells.

A hamburger at KFC, Japan

One of the strangest Christmas traditions in the world comes from Japan. Apart from some ancient traditions such as gifts or garlands, Christmas has been celebrated recently in Japan.

He goes to eat with the family a … KFC! Originally, it was a group of expatriates who, finding no turkey in their traditional food, finally resorted to a fried chicken menu. KFC immediately seized the opportunity by launching their first Christmas menu!

We can find all the KFC classics adapted to Christmas.

The Yule Lads, Iceland

The Icelandic Yule Lads are unleashed during this time of the year, for one of the most naughty Christmas traditions.

During the 13 nights before Christmas, 13 happy and naughty trolls take turns on the streets of Iceland. The Yule Lads (jólasveinarnir or jólasveinar in Icelandic) visit the children of the country. They leave their shoes in the window and the Yule Lad gives them a gift to the best children and rotten potatoes for those who have not been kind. They are dressed in a traditional Icelandic costume and their name characterizes their action: Stekkjastaur (The groups of shepherd dogs), Giljagaur (The Dadais of the ravines), Stúfur (The Trap), Þvörusleikir (The Licker Spoon), The Potter (The Scratcher ), Askasleikir (The Bowl Licker), Hurðaskellir (The Gate Cleaver), Skyrgmur (The Skunk of Skyr), Bjúgnakrækir (The Thief of Sausages), Gluggagægir (The Voyeur behind the windows), Gáttaþefur (The Sniffer), Ketkrókur ( The Meat Hook) and Kertasníkir (The Candle Thief). A complete program!

Saint Nicolas, Germany

San Nicolás and his 3 friends: Santa Claus, Knecht Ruprecht and … a donkey.

Not to be confused with the Weihnachtsmann (Santa Claus), Nikolaus travels on a donkey on the night of December 6 ( Nikolaus Tag ). It distributes sweets, chocolates, oranges, and toys to well-educated children from all over Germany and especially in the Bavarian region. She meets the children in the schools and, in exchange for a small gift or candy, each child recites a poem, sings a song or draws a picture. San Nicolás also travels with Knecht Ruprecht (the Whipper). The latter, with his demon mask, his dark clothes, and his bells, visits children who were not good during the year.

In Norway

Never leave a broom in Norway at Christmas: you could steal it.

This is perhaps one of the least orthodox Christmas traditions in the world. In Norway, all residents hide their brooms during this period. This goes back centuries when it was believed that witches went out during Christmas night in search of a broom in which they could fly. Even today, many Norwegians hide their brooms to avoid being stolen.

The Flame of the National Menorah, Washington, DC

The Jewish religious festival of Hanukkah is celebrated with fanfare throughout the United States. Since 1979, a huge menorah ( candelabrum or seven-arm oil lamp ) is installed for 8 days in the White House garden, next to the Christmas tree. The ceremonies of Washington are marked by many speeches, music, activities for children and, of course, the illumination of the menorah.

The lighting of the first candle in the White House will take place at 4:00 pm, regardless of the weather, and the other candles will light one by one of the following days. You can attend the ceremony for free, but you must reserve your place in advance.

In skating in Venezuela

Do you like Christmas, but do you think it would be better to celebrate it on roller skates? It does not matter, you just have to go to Caracas in Venezuela! Every Christmas Eve, the inhabitants of the city go to church in the morning. No wonder that, except that, for dark reasons that only they know, go on … skates.

This tradition is so popular that roads in the center of the city are closed to cars so people can go to church safely. Before going home to eat tamales ( a stuffed meat wrapped in a paste of corn that is then steamed ).

Day of the small candles, Colombia

The Day of the Small Candles ( Day of the Candles ) marks the beginning of the Christmas season in Colombia. It takes place on December 7, the day when locals place small candles and paper lanterns in front of their house, in honor of the Virgin Mary. This tradition has grown in importance year after year, and today, all the cities of the country are illuminated that day. The inhabitants redouble their ingenuity and creativity. Those of Quimbaya are the most beautiful illuminations.

The Parade of Lights, Toronto

The last of our list of Christmas traditions in the world comes from Toronto. In winter, the Lumières Cavalcade marks the beginning of the Christmas season. The first edition of this celebration took place in 1967, on the occasion of the inauguration of the new City Hall and Nathan Phillips Square.

The square and the Christmas tree are illuminated with more than 300,000 LEDs that save energy and shine every day until New Year’s Eve. It is also an opportunity to enjoy beautiful pyrotechnic shows or to go around on the outdoor ice rink.


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