Christmas | Holiday | popular

11 Weird Christmas Traditions From Around The World

Every family has their own unique Christmas traditions, the things you do each year that make the holidays special.

But there are also traditions we all share: watching It's A Wonderful Life, wrapping presents and putting them under the tree, caroling from door to door. You may be surprised to learn that some of these activities aren't as common around the world.

As you'll see, each country has their own unique way to celebrate the holidays, and some are a little...odd.

1. Brazil

If you're lucky, your job may give you a small Christmas bonus for a job well done, but for most people Christmas is a major pain in the wallet. In Brazil, it's a different story.

Businesses are actually required by law to pay workers an extra month's salary - called the 13th salary - in the run-up to Christmas. This holiday bonus was introduced in the 1960s to boost the economy around Christmas time and quickly became a holiday tradition.

It may seem odd, but most Brazilians are actually surprised to hear other countries don't give out extra cash at Christmas.

2. The Philippines  

While the Christmas tree has become a global symbol, some countries have their own unique decorations. In the Philippines, the beloved Parol (a star-shaped lantern made out of paper and bamboo) is the reigning holiday ornament. These crafts can be seen decorating the streets as early as September, and some cities even light up their own giant versions.

3. Iceland

Instead of Santa Claus, Icelandic children are visited by the Yule Lads, a rowdy bunch of goblins who leave presents for good children and rotting potatoes for bad ones.

There are 13 different Yule Lads, each with their favorite kind of mischief. For example, Bjúgnakrækir, or Sausage Stealer, hides in the rafters and - you guessed it - steals sausages. Other Lads include Door Slammer, Candle Stealer and Bowl Licker, who all do pretty much what you'd expect.

4. China

Christmas is still only beginning to become popular in China, so outside of Christmas trees and mall Santas, there aren't many traditions. But China is home to the Christmas apple, a festive treat of apples decorated with Chinese characters or paper.

Why apples? Apparently the Chinese call Christmas "Peaceful Night," which sounds like the word for apple, píngguǒ.

5. Australia

Finish this sentence: Santa's sleigh is pulled by....?

If you said "six white boomers," you may be Australian. According to local legend Santa trades his reindeer for a team of boomers (kangaroos) once he reaches Australia's sunny beaches. There's even an Australian Christmas carol about them.


6. Indonesia

Christmas is very popular in Indonesia, but this tropical country has a shortage of Christmas trees. Instead, villagers in the province of Bali make their own trees out of chicken feathers.

There's no denying they do a great job. In the past few years Indonesia has even begun to export these beautiful decorations to countries around the world.

7. Switzerland

Your town probably has a Christmas parade, with floats and a marching band. Switzerland does too, but with a special twist.

Starting on Christmas day, huge parades of villagers with enormous cow bells called trychlers take to the streets, making lots of noise to scare away evil spirits. We're not sure if it works, but it sure looks like a lot of fun.

8. Sweden

Every year, the Swedish town of Gävle has built a giant goat made out of hay to display in the town square. While this tradition is impressive enough on its own, the yearly display also has its own traditional unhappy ending.

In the 50 years since the goat's introduction, the giant statue has only survived the holiday season 12 times. Holiday revelers love to burn down the giant hay goat, This year, they managed to torch it in only two days.

9. Norway

He has a red hat, a long white beard, and he brings Christmas presents to children, who is he? Most people would say Santa Claus, but in Norway they'd answer "a Nisse!"

According to legend, these tiny elves bring children presents at Christmas time, and families leave out a bowl of rice porridge to reward them.

10. Japan

On Christmas day in Japan, people wait in line for as long as two hours to buy a special holiday meal from KFC. The story goes that in 1974 a group of foreigners settled for a bucket of chicken instead of a Christmas turkey, because turkey is hard to find in Japanese stores.

Ever since, KFC has worked hard to associate their restaurant with Christmas, and today Japanese customers associate the foreign holiday with the chain's "American-style" food. To save time, some shoppers place orders for their special Christmas dinner - which includes champagne and cake - months in advance.

11. The Netherlands

Where does Santa Claus come from? If you said "Spain," you may have been born in Holland. Every year, parents take their children to Amsterdam harbor to meet Santa as his ship arrives from Spain.

Santa brings his bag full of toys, but also a white horse, which he rides up to the royal palace to be greeted by the country's King Willem-Alexander.

What's your family's weird Christmas tradition?

Related Articles