Christmas is a time where family get together and spend quality time and eat good food. This concept seems to similar all over the world, however, that is where the similarities end. From eating decomposed birds to a pooing log, read on to find out what goes on around the world during the festive period…

Spain…

cagaAlthough Christmas Day is celebrated, gifts are not given until the Epiphany on 6th January, called El Día de los Reyes (The Day of The Kings), as that was when the Three Kings brought gifts for the baby Jesus. Another tradition in several parts of Spain including Catalonia is the ‘Caganer’. This is a figurine in the nativity who is, ahem, showing his backside and doing a number 2… There are even specialist shops selling them in various celebrities, including Donald Trump. Another tradition in Catalonia is the ‘Tio de Nadal’ which means ‘Christmas Log’. This is a log made into a figure, which children keep warm with a blanket and ‘feeding’ it throughout December. On Christmas Day, the log will be hit with sticks, until it ‘poo’s’ sweets.

Japan…

Image: Flickr
Image: Flickr

After an insanely powerful marketing campaign, millions of people across Japan enjoy KFC as their Christmas feast. When the fried chicken chain noticed that foreigners couldn’t get a hold of turkey in Japan, they marketed KFC as the next best thing and launched a new menu; ‘Kurisumasu ni wa kentakkii!’, meaning ‘Kentucky for Christmas!’ which includes Champagne and chocolate cake with your bucket of chicken. It is now a tradition, with people queuing up on Christmas Eve and pre-booking months in advance.

Italy…

Image: Wikipedia
Image: Wikipedia

La Befana is an old lady, of Italian folklore, who rides a broomstick and delivers gifts to children all over Italy on the 5th of December, Epiphany Eve. If you are a good child throughout the year, Befana will fill your shoes with candy and presents, however, if you are naughty you will receive nothing but a stick.

The Czech Republic…

It is said that if single women throw their shoe over the shoulder and the toe faces the door, they will be married within the next year.

The Netherlands…

Image: Wikipedia
Image: Wikipedia

Sinterklaas is a mythical character based on Saint Nicholas and is celebrated on the night before Saint Nicholas Day on 6th of December. He carries a big red book with lists of children’s names and whether they have been naughty or nice that year. Children put their shoes in front of the chimney and on the morning of the 6th, they wake up to find a small present in their shoes.

Greenland…

Image: Flickr
Image: Flickr

Mattak and Kiviak are two dishes eaten at Christmas time in Greenland. Mattak is strips of whale blubber encased in whale skin and is tough and fatty. Kiviak is a dish consisting of around 500 dead auk birds, wrapped up in seal skin and sewn up. This is left for seven months to ferment.

Slovakia…

Image: slovakia-holidays-celebrations
Image: Slovakia-holidays-celebrations

A tradition in Slovakia is eating carp for Christmas dinner and also to give it a bath. Yep, that’s right, the carp is bought alive and swims around in the bathtub for a day or two before it’s killed to eat. This ritual came around before fridges were used, so keeping it in water would keep it fresh.

South Africa…

Children in South Africa are warned about ‘Danny’, a wee boy who ate the cookies that were left for Santa and made her so angry she killed him in a rage. It is said that he haunts homes around Christmas…

Austria

Image: Wikipedia
Image: Wikipedia

If you thought that the ghost of Danny was scary, Austria has won the ‘Best Way to Terrify Weans at Christmas’ award. Children are warned about Krampus, a Christmas devil who beats naughty children with branches then puts them in a wicker basket on his back… and we thought Maggie Murphy was bad?

Venezuela…

Image: Swifty.com
Image: Swifty.com

Most countries will attend Mass leading up to Christmas, however, Venezuela uses a slightly more unusual method of travelling there. People of Caracas get there by roller skates!

USA

Image: runningofthesantas.com
Image: runningofthesantas.com

More of a recent tradition, but wacky none the less, The Running of the Santas started in Philadelphia and has become an annual event. Groups dressed as Santa take part in a pub crawl to raise money for charity.

Guatemala…

A tradition of Guatemala is to sweep your houses before Christmas, all the dirt from each house is collected together in each neighbourhood and made into a massive pile which is then topped with an effigy of the devil and set fire to.