10 Bizarre Christmas Traditions From Around The World

Everybody has their traditions at Christmas. From watching a pantomime starring a questionable celebrity cast, popping open a bottle of buck’s fizz upon after immediately waking up on Christmas morning (drinking it responsibly, of course) to the classic board games and watching the Queen’s speech, before the inevitable family argument reminding you why you only see some relatives once a year!

We at SwitchMyBusiness.com know that no two Christmases exactly are the same. That’s why we’ve done our research and found some of the most weird and wonderful Christmas traditions from around the world, so you can either get inspired by other countries’ celebrations, or make a note of the places you’ll be avoiding at all costs this holiday season.

1. Mari Lwyd

Firstly, we’ll start close to home in rural Wales with one of the spookier looking Christmas traditions we’ve seen. Mari Lwyd, a 19th century house-visiting custom, involves a hobby horse made out of a pole with a horse’s skull mounted on it and a white sheet acting as a hood.

Originally, the horse was paraded around house to house, followed by a group of men who would sing at each house to request entry. Upon entry, these groups would expect food and drink from their hosts. However, they can be refused entry if the inhabitants responded in song also.

This tradition is not widely continued, but some rural areas in Wales do carry on with the procession.

Mari Lwyd

2. Deep Fried Caterpillars

If you want the Bushtucker Trial experience this Christmas, we suggest you head down to South Africa where you can find the locals eating deep fried caterpillars. They choose the Emperor moth in particular with this tradition, and they’re supposed to be quite nutritious!

Emperor Moth Caterpillar

3. Krampus

Krampus is next on our list of weird Christmas traditions. This scary figure stretches across Austria, Germany and other Eastern European countries.

A half-goat-half-demon that punishes children who misbehave during the Christmas season, people dress up as the figure during this period and roam the streets, scaring children.


4. The Legend of the Christmas Spider

Something slightly less scary this time (well, arachnophobes may not agree) from Ukraine.

The Legend of the Christmas Spider tells the story of a poor widow who lived with her children in a small hut when a pine cone fell and rooted in the floor of the hut.

The family took care of the tree, but come Christmas Eve they were too poor to decorate it. On Christmas morning, they woke to see the tree covered in cobwebs which after opening the windows, turned to silver and gold in the sunlight. They were never to be poor again.

It is now tradition in Ukraine to decorate part of their Christmas tree in spider and web ornaments.

Ukrainian spider tree decoration

5. KFC

Instead of sweating over the oven this Christmas, why not join the Japanese in bringing a bucket of KFC to dinner?

With just 1% of Japan’s population being Christian, Christmas is not an official holiday. So, instead of spending the whole day cooking a great big turkey with all the trimmings, people choose to head to KFC for their Christmas dinner.

While it’s something we’re not sure would work in Britain, at least it would save on the washing up!

A very festive Japanese Colonel Sanders

6. Caganer

Feeling a bit flushed with the stress of organising the perfect Christmas this year? Catalonia takes this a bit too literally with their traditional Caganer figurine.

A Caganer depicts the act of defecation and appears in nativity scenes in Catalonia, as well as some areas of Portugal and Italy. The origin of Caganer is unknown, but the tradition has been around since the 18th century, making for some very interesting Christmas displays!

Caganer figure

7. Loksa throwing

We’re heading to Slovakia with this tradition, for a practice you’d expect to be followed by the war cry of any school dinner canteen… FOOD FIGHT!

At the beginning of their Christmas Eve dinner, Slovakians watch the head of their families take a spoon of loksa (a potato dough pancake) and fling it onto the ceiling. It is suggested that the more mixture that sticks to the ceiling, the better their crops did that year.


8. Mattak and Kiviak

With their extremely cold temperatures, it is pretty hard living out in Greenland. Even their Christmas trees need to be imported from Denmark as it is too difficult to grow any out there so it’s no wonder that people in Greenland enjoy some unconventional foods at Christmas time.

The first being Mattak, which is a piece of whale skin with some blubber wrapped inside. As you’d imagine, it’s too tough to chew, so it is usually just swallowed.

The second food, which is also a delicacy in Greenland, is kiviak, which is auks (a type of arctic bird) wrapped in sealskin and buried for several months to decompose.

Don’t knock it ‘til you try it…


9. Saunas

If you need help staying warm this winter, then get on a flight to Estonia where it is traditionally customary to go to a sauna on Christmas Eve, before the religious service at church. We reckon it’ll help sweat off that box of Quality Street you just couldn’t wait until Christmas Day to open!


10. Rollerskating

In Venezuela’s capital Caracas, it has become tradition to go to Mass on rollerskates during the Christmas season.

People can be seen skating along to early morning Christmas Mass, with many areas across the city being blocked off to allow for skaters to take over.

This unconventional form of transport could also double up as an efficient way to get ahead of the Christmas shoppers, saving you from hours of plodding down the high street.

Rollerskating to Mass



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