6 Quirky Christmas Traditions from Around the Globe
There are a lot of really special Christmas traditions that some Westerners love to follow come the holidays. Whether it’s eating ham on Christmas Eve, or blasting Mariah Carey’s Christmas album, these customs are an important part of what makes Christmas, well, Christmas. Thankfully, Christmas isn’t celebrated the same way everywhere around the world, and this can make for some quirky and interesting cultural norms. Check out some of our favourite Christmas traditions from around the globe!
1. Christmas cribs in India
As one of the most multicultural nations in the world, India loves to celebrate many different holidays in style. And, like most traditions celebrated in India, Christmas is a colourful and lively affair. Many stores and malls throughout the country are decked with lights and paper streamers, and churches tend to erect extravagant lighting which looks amazing in the night. But perhaps most interesting of all is the tradition of the Christmas crib. This is just another phrase for a nativity scene and forms a huge part of Christmas traditions in India. Individual families will put a lot of planning into their nativity scenes and often there’s competition between neighbours and even churches to see who has the most elaborate Christmas crib!
2. Surf and sand in Australia
It’s probably hard to imagine Christmas without the cool, wintry weather, but our friends Down Under celebrate Christmas in the summer (technically our winter). There’s plenty of sun and fun during the Christmas holidays, but Aussies like to add their own touch with a special holiday dinner: prawns, lobsters, and shrimp on the Christmas barbie! Locals gather on the beach for these barbecue picnics and pass the time filling up on tasty food and swimming or surfing. The closest you’ll get to a white Christmas in Australia is probably the vanilla ice-cream you eat at the end of your Christmas dinner!
3. Paper crowns in Great Britain
While Americans have adopted a lot of British Christmas traditions, there’s still a few that set Great Britain apart from her U.S. counterpart. Paper crowns are almost as popular at Christmastime as Santa hats, and that means everyone gets to be a king during the holidays. Adults and children alike don these colourful crowns in celebration of the holiday, so it’s fun for all ages. And don’t forget Boxing Day, which follows Christmas Day and is also considered a holiday in the U.K.! This is the nation’s biggest shopping day—very similar to what Black Friday is to Americans.
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4. Fried chicken in Japan
While the rest of us are feasting on ham and turkey, Japanese people love to eat their fried chicken during the Christmas holidays! On December 25th, most people go out to eat fried chicken—KFC is particularly popular restaurant choice—and it’s become so widespread that it’s nearly impossible to get a last minute reservation (at KFC of all places). How did this odd tradition come about? Well, back in 1974 KFC start a “Christmas Chicken” campaign, in part to cater to foreigners who found it impossible to get turkey in Japan, and the campaign caught on in a big way. You can now get a full Christmas dinner at KFC, which includes wine, cake, champagne, and, of course, chicken.
5. Church and saunas in Finland
Finland seems to be a pretty big fan of Christmas because their season starts the first Sunday of December and lasts two weeks past the actual holiday. There are holiday celebrations throughout the month of December, including St. Lucia Day on the 13th after which locals begin their Christmas tree shopping and decorating. If you’re religious, you might celebrate on Christmas Eve by attending a church service or going to mass. Afterwards, you head to the sauna to relax with friends and family. If this sounds like an odd custom, just remember that saunas are a huge part of Finnish culture and there’s over 3 million saunas in Finland—an average of one per household!
6. September Christmas in the Philippines
If you thought the Finnish had a long holiday season, just take a look at the Philippines; this nation boasts the longest and most lavish Christmas celebrations in the world! As early as September you’ll see Christmas lights, decorations, and displays popping up in malls and parks all across the country. While the main celebration is on Christmas Eve, decorations tend to stay up way into January. You don’t have to feel guilty anymore for forgetting to take down your Christmas lights once the holidays are over and done with, just tell people you’re celebrating the Filipino way!
What are some quirky Christmas customs you know about?