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Christmas Traditions – the weird and the wonderful

From banana trees in India to KFC in Japan


Christmas – what’s it all about? For most of us, tucking into the Christmas feast, hanging up stockings, leaving a mince pie out for Santa and unwrapping presents under the tree is pretty much the festive norm.

But in some parts of the world, they celebrate pretty differently. Ever wanted to eat fermented bird stuffed inside a seal skin or spend your festive meal tucking into a giant portion of KFC? Here are some of the weird and wonderful Christmas traditions from around the world:

Banana trees in India

In India only 2.3% of the population are Christians, but that still accounts for about 25 million people! Christians in India celebrate with the usual Midnight Mass and gift giving, but for a want of a tree to decorate (fir or pine trees are somewhat hard to come by in India), they turn to the exotic and adorn banana or mango trees, decorating them with lights, bells and baubles. How very tropical!

Roller-skating in Venezuela

Before young children go to bed on Christmas Eve in the city of Caracus, they tie one end of a string to their big toe, letting the other end hang down outside their bedroom window. Come Christmas day and Early Morning Mass, streets are closed off and people roller skate to the service, tugging on hanging strings they see along the way to awaken any sleep heads!

Spider webs in Ukraine

Unlike our usual glittering ornaments and tinsel, Ukrainian Christmas trees are traditional covered in spiders and cobwebs (don’t judge – there’s method to the madness). According to local folklore, a poverty stricken family went to bed one Christmas Eve despondent because they couldn’t decorate their tree. The spiders roaming the house heard their cries, and so spun their webs on the tree, creating decoration. On Christmas Day, the strands turned into gold and silver, and changed the family’s fortune forever.

Kiviak in Greenland

Fancy something different to turkey for your Christmas dinner? Maybe give Greenland’s top dish Kiviak a go. Just stuff up to 500 whole auks (local birds) feathers, legs, beaks and all into the skin of a seal, sew up and cover with grease and then leave for six months. Yes, six months. Apparently when you open up the delightful package, the auks are fermented, smell something like stilton cheese and are apparently quite tasty. Yeah, we’re not convinced either!

KFC in Japan

Crazy, but true – the Japanese must have dinner on Christmas day is no other than a barrel of the Colonel’s finest chicken. What started as a marketing campaign four decades ago has since become a fully-fledged Japanese tradition passed down through the generations, and this year more than 240,000 barrels of chicken are expected to be sold. It sure is finger lickin’ good!

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