The wackiest Christmas traditions from around the world

Turkey, tinsel and a burst of Mariah Carey may be the norm in the UK, but other parts of the world have their own unique Christmas customs.

 
 
 
  • Austrian Krampus Christmas tradition
    Press Association
    Last updated: 18 December 2016, 09:17 GMT

    According to legend, Krampus is Santa's evil accomplice, punishing all the naughty children while Santa plays the nice guy. That's why it pays to be good boys and girls! When Krampus finds a really badly-behaved child, he'll throw them in his sack and carry them off to his lair - which, it's safe to say, isn't decorated with much tinsel. Creepy Krampus is a popular myth in the Alpine regions, especially Austria. Every December 6, men dress up in the scariest demon costume they can find and set about frightening local children. Not the gentle yodelling we're used to!

     
     
     
     
  • Ukraine Christmas tree tradition
    Press Association
    Last updated: 18 December 2016, 09:17 GMT

    If you want to spread good cheer this Christmas, take inspiration from this heart-warming Ukrainian story. It's based on a fairytale where a widowed mother was so poor she couldn't afford to decorate the Christmas tree. But when she woke on Christmas morning, she found a spider had done the job for her, by spinning a beautiful web all around the needles. The custom is now to hide a fake web among the usual baubles, with lots of good luck heading to the person who spies it!

     
     
     
     
  • Christmas caganer of Bart Simpson
    Press Association
    Last updated: 18 December 2016, 09:17 GMT

    In parts of Portugal and Spain, there's one nativity scene sure to turn heads - and stomachs. The caganer is a figurine - often of celebrities or politicians - squatting with its trousers round its ankles, doing a number two! It's usually placed in the corner of the model stable. The popular tradition started back in the late 17th century, with some saying it was simply a bit of fun, and others arguing it represented the equality of all people. We don't think it would go unnoticed in Selfridges famous Christmas windows!

     
     
     
     
  • Portuguese Christmas tradition of empty place setting
    Press Association
    Last updated: 18 December 2016, 09:17 GMT

    Christmas is always a time to remember loved ones, but on Christmas morning the Portuguese go a step further and actually set a place for relatives who've recently passed away. They even leave a small portion of food for visiting souls, as it's believed that the kind gesture will bring luck in the New Year. We're not sure how long the plates go untouched before wandering knives and forks tuck in.

     
     
     
     
  • Japanese Christmas tradition of KFC
    Press Association
    Last updated: 18 December 2016, 09:17 GMT

    There's nothing like settling down to a turkey with all the trimmings, is there? But in Japan, they have their own take on how to polish off poultry come December. Instead of a home-cooked feast, families like to head out to their local KFC. It's such a popular custom that reservations for the fast food joint usually have to be made way in advance. Barbecue sauce, anyone?

     
     
     
     
  • Czechoslovakian shoe-kicking Christmas tradition
    Press Association
    Last updated: 18 December 2016, 09:17 GMT

    If you find yourself twiddling your thumbs alone under the mistletoe this year, it might be worth following a certain Czech tradition to see if things will pick up in the New Year. On Christmas Eve, single women stand opposite a door with their back to it, then hurl their footwear over their shoulder. If it lands facing the door, wedding bells can be expected within the year. If it lands facing away, the single status looks set to continue. Shoe-d be fun!

     
     
     
     

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