Christmas crackers might be the norm here in the UK, but for many people around the world celebrating the holiday, donning a paper hat and telling a bad joke is unheard of on 25 December. Instead, they have their own weird and wonderful ways to celebrate the festive season.
From unusual Christmas Day meals to bizarre traditions that date back hundreds of years, the travel experts at JENZA – youth-led work and travel brand – have rounded up their favourite weird and wonderful Christmas customs from around the world.
For festive travel inspiration and must-knows, read the full list below:
For many Brits, turkey with all the trimmings is the meat of choice on Christmas Day, but for those in Japan, the Kentucky Fried variety has become a staple. While it may seem odd anywhere else in the world, its estimated that 3.6 million Japanese families treat themselves to some finger lickin’ good fried chicken from the American fast-food chain each festive season.
Down to a combination of tiny Japanese ovens and some clever marketing, KFC has become a traditional yuletide feast since the nineties. Demand is now so high that an online service has been set up to allow families to order their Christmas dinner in advance of the big day.
For Austrians, Christmas isn’t all about Santa and his merry bunch of helpful elves. Instead, an alarming looking creature called Krampus also takes centre stage during the month of December.
The bad cop to jolly St. Nick’s good cop, Krampus is there to punish bad children who don’t behave. Quite simply, if children are good they are told St. Nick will bring them something nice and if they’re bad… Krampus might come and get them!
In the region of Spain that is home to Barcelona, no Christmas is complete without Caga tió, which literally translates as ‘pooping log’ in English. The figurine comes out every December, with locals in Catalonia creating a character out of a log complete with faces and hats, before spending two weeks ‘feeding’ it fruit, nuts and sweets.
By the time Christmas Eve rolls around, the whole family is ready to beat the log with sticks and sing a song that translates to ‘if you don’t crap well, I’ll beat you with a stick’ until the log finally excretes all its treats. Bizarrely, the tradition hasn’t made it out of Catalonia.
While spiders webs might feel more synonymous with Halloween than Christmas, this isn’t the case for Germans. Alongside the Christmas lights and baubles, many Christmas trees in the country will also feature an artificial spider and web.
This tradition comes from a traditional tale of a poor woman who couldn’t afford to decorate her tree with fancy ornaments but awoke on Christmas morning to find her tree adorned with sparkling webs. To this day, many Germans still place a fake spider and web on their tree to help bring about good luck.
It’s not unusual to want to get your house in order before the masses descend upon you come Christmas Day, but in Guatemala cleaning the house pre-Christmas is taken to a whole new level.
On 7 December, Guatemalans spend the day cleaning and clearing out rubbish, before burning it on fires in front of their homes. The annual festive tradition is said to purge their homes from evil in preparation for Christmas, with many locals believing that the devil and other evil spirits live in the dark, dirty corners of their home.