Weird and Wonderful Traditions of Christmas

If you’re bored with the same old traditions of Christmas you’ve been practicing for decades, consider adding some of these to your Yule celebrations.

When it comes to the traditions of Christmas, it’s easy to assume that just because you celebrate things a certain way, other people do, too. That’s not necessarily true even within your own culture, much less out in the wider world.

In fact, one of the traditions of Christmas that most Americans take for granted is that the day itself falls on December 25. Not necessarily so. The Eastern Orthodox, even here in the States, often celebrate Christmas on January 6. Some people even celebrate on January 7.

How We Celebrate

While the tradition of Christmas itself is nearly universal in the Christian world, how it’s celebrated can vary wildly from culture to culture. It’s not all Christmas trees and cards and caroling, not by a long shot.

Possibly the weirdest traditions in the history of Christmas traditions are two scatological Spanish customs: the Caganer and the Pooping Log. The less said about both the better.

We’re not picking on you here, Spain, but you have to admit… to outside eyes, these Christmas traditions might seem a bit unusual.

Scary Traditions

Alpine Europe has the Krampus: Santa’s evil twin, a horned, toothy devil who goes around beating all the bad kids on Christmas Eve. One very much wants to be on the Nice List in Austria, Hungary, Slovenia, and Bavaria.

Men there often dress in their scariest Krampus costumes and run around hitting people with switches and sticks on December 6. It’s hard to determine the origin of Christmas traditions like this one… but needless to say, if you’re visiting that part of the world, stay inside that day.

In Norway, some people still believe that evil spirits and witches come out on Christmas Eve and do all kinds of horrible things. Therefore, the ladies of the house lock all the brooms away, while the menfolk go outside and fire shotguns in the air to scare away the baddies.

Also Rans

While you’ll probably be eating turkey, ham, or possibly a goose for dinner this Christmas, the modern Japanese prefer chicken. Specifically, Kentucky Fried Chicken. KFC is so popular that Japanese families often have to make reservations at their favorite KFC restaurants to eat there on Christmas.

And let’s not forget the old Czech tradition, in which an unmarried woman stands with her back to a door and tosses a shoe over her shoulder on Christmas Eve. If the toe points toward the door when the shoe lands, that means she’ll be married that year. Or so the story goes!

Clearly, not all traditions of Christmas have to be sober and serious — they can by wacky and fun, too!