Weird Christmas traditions happening this weekend around the world

Much more exciting than Top of the Pops

Thomas Goulding@TomGoulding
Thursday 22 December 2016 18:14
How Christmas is celebrated around the world

Christmas means a lot of different things to a lot of different people, even within the same country, city or household.

To many people in Britain, it often entails seeing family you’ve missed, confronting family you haven’t missed, heavy drinking, twee Christian traditions, re-runs of classic feel-good films, the commodification of gift-giving, or simply a few days’ off to listen to your old-fashioned Nan rant about the country going down the pan.

While the majority of Britons will celebrate Christmas in some capacity, only a minority of the world’s population will, with two billion Christians and non-Christians across the globe recognising the holiday.

The traditional red and white Santa outfit has become a global costume that most prominently represents Christmas, worn to do all sorts of sporting, social and charity events over December worldwide.

The character of Father Christmas is derived from a fourth-century Greek bishop Saint Nicholas, and is used in grottos around the world to give gifts out to children, operating as the main vehicle for the commercialised interpretation of the holiday.

The tale of Santa often includes a sorting of the world’s children into those who have behaved well and badly, though in parts of Germany and Eastern Europe, punishing the naughty children is outsourced to the scary villain Krampus.

Krampus, a monstrous friend of Santa’s that has a devilish, bloody head, seeks out the mischievous children in public events and marches.

A tradition in Czech Republic sees young women throw shoes over the head towards their front door, with the direction the shoe lands dictating their romantic fortunes of the upcoming year.

If the shoe lands facing the door, this indicates the woman will be engaged by the end of the year, while the shoe facing away predicts a year of single, bitter loneliness.

Another curious yuletide tradition is the placing of ceramic figures in a defecatory pose around the nativity crib in Catalonia.

The ‘caganer’, literally meaning “the crapper”, is a small figurine typically of a Catalan peasant, with bottom exposed and a pile of faeces beneath it, that has positive connotations.

Rather than resembling toxicity or ridicule, the figure resembles purification and prosperity for the new year.

In Caracas, Venezuela, the streets are closed off before 8am on the week before Christmas to allow people to roller-skate to mass.

As they go, skaters tug on the end of long pieces of string tied by children to their big toes and dangles out of the window.

Is the Krampus Run the scariest Christmas tradition ever?

And in Japan, KFC's aggressive marketing campaign over decades to synonymise themselves with Christmas has proven successful.

It is now tradition in many parts of the country for families to eat KFC to such an extent that there are queues around blocks to pick up the fast food in many cities.

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