Photo Credit: TheStar
The season to be jolly is just around the bend! Families have already begun their Christmas shopping, be it the Christmas tree, present or Christmas cards, you name it, they are selling FAST – including bus tickets 😉
Christmas is time for us to spend with our loved ones especially after working and stressing all year long. This includes exchanging presents, singing Christmas carols and just being merry. However, in some other parts of the world, Christmas is celebrated differently from the norm. Here are some unique Christmas traditions and customs from around the world.
#1 Merry Licking Good (Japan)
The Japanese culture is filled with tradition. Much of their way of life has even made its way into the corporate world, school curriculum and more – even Christmas. Take their association that the Japanese have of Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) with Christmas for one, all thanks to a smart marketing campaign held decades ago.
Back in the day, KFC was owned by automobile powerhouse and Japan’s own, Mitsubishi Corporation, who started promoting fried chicken as a Christmas meal when they realised the lack of tradition practised by the Westerners.
Apparently, a foreigner entered a KFC restaurant in Tokyo and stated he had no other option but to eat chicken for Christmas Eve as it was impossible to find turkey in Japan. Seeing as an opportunity, an employee told his supervisor it would be a good idea to promote KFC during Christmas as a substitute for turkey.
And guess what? The practice of having KFC for Christmas has been passed down from generation to generation! This ‘tradition’ has become so popular that you would have to order your meal in advance to enjoy it during the holidays, resulting to 5 to 10 times more sales than the usual monthly sales.
Definitely, fingers licking good!
#2 Skate To Service (Venezuela)
City dwellers know ALL TOO WELL, the pain that is traffic congestions and honking vehicles on the road. Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to skate to certain places for a change? Well, head on over to Caracas, the capital of Venezuela!
From 16 December to Christmas Eve, people can roller-skate to morning service. If you are wondering whether there has been any casualties or occurrences of people being run over by cars on the road, the answer is – no, streets are closed during this point of time to cater for the skaters.
Children, on the other hand, take things a tad bit further. Before bedtime, they would often tie a string to their big toe and hang it the other end of the string outside their window. When dawn breaks, skaters passing by would give that string a tug as a form of holiday greeting.
#3 A Spidey Christmas (Ukraine)
Christmas ornaments and decorations we put around the house and Christmas trees are all part of the festivity. Your tinsels, fairy lights, baubles and more, but spider webs?
This peculiar practice has a local Ukrainian folklore behind it. Legend has it, there was once a poor woman who could not decorate her Christmas tree and left it as it was. On Christmas morning, her children and her woke up to find that their tree had been covered with spider webs. Upon touching the first light of Christmas, the webs miraculously turned into silver and gold, granting the family wealth, changing their lives forever.
Today in modern day Ukraine, Christmas trees are decorated with fake spider webs as it is believed to be a sign of good luck.
#4 Christmas Pudding (Britain)
It is always fun to prepare food or pastries for the rest to enjoy during this festive season. In Britain, it has become a common practice but with a slight twist.
Christmas pudding or better known as plum pudding is a must during Christmas in Britain. Some families have even developed their own family recipes, in which they pass down from generation to generation. Generally, the puddings are black, due to the long cooking hours and the black sugar. Brandy or juice is added in order to attain the moist texture.
Traditionally, every member of the household would have a turn to stir the mixture clockwise while making a wish before it is baked and eaten. Earlier traditions, include placing an item in the mixture and stirring it. Whoever finds that item in their pudding slice, would be granted a blessing associated with said item. A coin signifying wealth, ring signifying marriage, a thimble signifying good luck and more.
#5 Anti-Santa (Germany & Austria)
When we were kids, we were told countless times to be at our best behaviour all year long to receive presents from Santa Claus come Christmas. In Germany and Austria, a somewhat similar folklore still exist among the locals. In fact, they believe in a much sinister entity.
Krampusnacht is celebrated on the 5 December, the eve of Saint Nicholas day. In these parts, people dress up as the demon Krampus, who is believed to be the evil counterpart of Saint Nicholas (Santa Claus ). According to Norse mythology, Krampus is the son of Hel – lord of the underworld.
Krampus, a half-devil half-goat is sent to punish children who have been naughty all year long by either kidnapping them in his sack or giving them coal instead of presents.
On the eve of Krampusnacht, people dress up as the hairy long-horned mythical beast and parade the streets looking for others to beat with a stick. In Austria, there will be a procession held in the city of Hallein in Salzburg.
#6 Catalonian Christmas Crappers (Spain)
Catalan traditions have always been unique though less renowned, relative to the rest of Spain. Even on Christmas, Catalonians have their own absurd practice, specifically one with a rather faecal-like theme.
Back to the 18th century, Catalans tend to hide Caganers, a small defecating figurine, in Christmas nativity scenes and invite their friends over to try and find them. Traditionally, Caganers resemble a peasant but modern day Caganers resemble famous figures such as celebrities and politicians.
Another one of their odd Christmas traditions is called Caga Tió, which means ‘defecating log.’ This is normally done by the Catalonians children. Tió represents the log with a painted face, legs, a hollow inside and sometimes even a hat. The Tió is then placed on the dining table for a fortnight leading up to Christmas.
Every day the children would give it ‘food’ which come in the form of nuts, candies and fruits, and cover it with a blanket during the night so it does not get cold.
On the big day (Christmas), the Tió is partly placed over a fire and is ordered to poop, by beating it with a stick while singing traditional songs like Tió de Nadal.
Book your bus tickets back home with CatchThatBus and have yourself a very merry Christmas. Happy holidays folks and safe travels!