10 Christmas Traditions You’ve Probably Never Heard Of
Every country seems to boast at least one weird and wonderful Christmas tradition. Here are our favorites from around the world!
Eating KFC for Dinner
In 1974, KFC released a marketing campaign in Japan. The simple but effective slogan, Kurisumasu ni wa Kentakkii! (Kentucky Christmas!) created a tradition that is going strong to this day. Here’s how to make the best fried chicken at home any day of the year.
Going to Church on Roller Skates
In Caracas, Venezuela, many energetic Mass-goers celebrate the Christmas holiday on roller skates. In fact, there are so many Yuletide skaters that some of the city’s streets are closed to traffic from 8 a.m. on Christmas day to keep the skaters safe.
Hanging a Pickle on the Tree
The old legend says if a pickle is the last ornament hung on the Christmas tree, the first child to find the pickle gets an extra present. You can make yourself a family legend with quick pickles that everybody can share on Christmas.
Waiting for Befana the Witch
In Italian folklore, Befana is an old woman who delivers gifts to children on the night of January 5. Befana visits on the eve of the Feast of the Epiphany to fill good kids’ socks with candy and presents. The naughty kids are gifted with a lump of coal or black rock candy.
Taking a Festive Holiday Sauna
In Finland, where many homes have a sauna, it’s customary on Christmas Eve to strip naked and take a sauna with the family. Here you thought discussing politics over dinner could be awkward! After the sauna, Finns continue the evening celebrations—presumably clothed. Skip the sauna and warm up with a Christmas casserole instead.
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Watching Donald Duck
In Sweden, a show called Kalle Anka och hans vänner önskar God Jul or Donald Duck and His Friends Wish You a Merry Christmas is must-see TV every Christmas. The tradition started in the 1960s and more than 40% of Sweden still tunes in. If a trip to Disney is on your Christmas wish list, here’s a guide to the best places to eat.
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Eating Fried Caterpillars
In South Africa, people munch on fried Emperor moth caterpillars on Christmas for extra luck in the coming year. They may not bring luck, but a batch of Christmas cookies will certainly bring smiles. (You can buy a rabbit’s foot for the luck.)
Decorating with Christmas Spider Ornaments
In Ukraine, Christmas trees are decorated with spider web ornaments. The tale goes that spiders in the house of a poor family once spun webs all over the tree on Christmas Eve. When the rays of morning sunlight hit the webs, they turned them into strands of gold and silver. If you want a little Halloween on your Christmas tree, here’s the full story.
Finding an Orange in Your Stocking
Oranges are often found in shoes or stockings on St. Nicholas Day (December 6) to symbolize the gold balls St. Nicholas would throw to poor girls in the 4th century as dowry money, according to one legend.
Keeping an Eye Out for Krampus
The Krampus (sort of an anti-Santa) is believed by some to be a half-goat and half-demon that comes for naughty children in early December. The legend started in Eastern Europe, but later found its way to the U.S. As Santa might say, “You’d better watch out…”