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Christmas around the world: Ten Bizarre Christmas Customs

Different Countries have their own traditions – and some of them are truly bizarre

Some Festive Food to begin with:

Japan: Demonstrating the power of advertising, KFC has become a traditional destination on Christmas Eve. Since 1974 KFC has been promoting it’s fried chicken as a Christmas meal and is now a widely practised Christmas tradition




…but perhaps festive fried chicken holds more appeal for you than  ‘Mattak’ a delicacy of raw whale skin served with blubber in Greenland ? Or ‘Kiviak’ which is 500 dead auk birds, stuffed into a seal skin, and left to ferment for 7 months.


Children live in fear of ‘Krampus’ a Christmas devil (half goat, half demon) who is said to beat naughty children with branches. Krampus is one of the companions of St Nicholas for several countries including Austria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovenia and part of Italy.


In South Africa the Christmas delicacy is the deep fried caterpillars of the Emperor Moth


 ‘Mari Lwyd’ is still performed in some villages in Wales on Christmas Eve : a villager is chosen to parade through the streets bearing the skull of a mare on the end of a stick


In Italy children await the arrival of ‘Befana’ a friendly witch who delivers sweets and toys on the fifth of January


In Iceland the Yule Cat is said to stalk the Icelandic hills. Those who don’t receive new clothes before Christmas Eve are said to be devoured by this mythical beast.


Instead of tinsel and baubles, in Ukraine people decorate their homes with an artificial spider and web. Legend says that a magic spider once visited a poor family at Christmas and turned the webs in their home into gold and silver.




Next to Catalonia and two festive rituals both on a scatalogical theme, the ‘Caganer’  – a small figurine of a defecating man is included in their nativity scenes –

The ‘Tio de Nadal’ is a ‘pooping log’, decorated with a face and a blanket – and on Christmas Eve it is placed halfway into a fire and beaten with sticks.


A cheering note to finish in Canada: Canada Post recognises the address of Santa Claus, The North Pole, Canada HO HO HO – Any letters received bearing this address are opened and and replied to…

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About Sharon Stephens

Sharon Stephens is Operations Director of Lingua Translation. With a First Class Honours Degree in Translation and a University Lecturer in Translation (Masters), she is a self confessed language geek! Bringing the academic principles of translation and business together Sharon offers a quality-driven and needs centric translation and interpreting service - like no other.

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