Every family has their own holiday traditions.
Some families go caroling on Christmas Eve, while others attend a church service. Since our first married Christmas in 1982, Janet and I have named our Christmas trees. When our daughter Jordan grew old enough, she joined in. Our tree’s name typically reflects something significant from the past 12 months.
Depending on where you spent your childhood, the traditions you deem “normal” could be very different from another family on the opposite side of the country or the planet.
To celebrate the spirit of Christmas, here are 5 unusual holiday traditions from around the world.
1. Gävle Goat in Sweden
Since 1966, the citizens of Gävle (pronounced yev-leh) have built a 13-meter-tall Yule Goat in the center of their town square for Advent. The fun doesn’t stop at a massive goat. This tradition of construction resulted in another tradition – people burning the goat to the ground. The Yule Goat has been destroyed by fire 29 times over the last 50 years.
2. Krampus in Austria & Germany
While Santa Claus rewards nice children with gifts and toys on Christmas morning, his evil counterpart Krampus has another agenda. Krampus doesn’t leave coal for naughty children, but instead beats them with branches, throws them in a sack, and kidnaps them. The costumes worn by young men in the days leading up to Christmas serve as reminders to be your best.
3. Roller Blading in Venezuela
In Caracas, Venezuela, the people attend an early morning church service – but for some reason, they all do so on roller skates. The tradition is so popular that roads all across the city are closed to car traffic.
4. Brooms in Norway
This tradition dates back centuries when people believed witches and evil spirits were prowling around on Christmas Eve searching for brooms to steal and ride. Now, Norwegians stow their brooms in their best hiding places to prevent the evil spirits from snatching them in the middle of the night.
5. Kentucky Fried Chicken in Japan
While small traditions like gift-giving and displays of twinkling lights are common, the holiday remains a novelty in Japan. Thanks to a successful marketing campaign in 1974, many Japanese families eat a feast of KFC on Christmas Eve instead of a home-cooked meal.
Interested in learning more about holiday traditions from around the world? Check out these fun links: