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The weird and wonderful Christmas traditions of our planet earth neighbours


Every family has its own unique Christmas traditions, but it turns out what WE see as the ‘Christmas norm’ at home is definitely not the Christmas norm in other parts of the world. Dates, foods, décor, gifts – it’s all subject to change based on the culture, history and religion of where you call home. No tradition is sacred, nothing is off limits, and although it’s surprising, it’s pretty awesome as well.

Regardless of what your Christmas norm is, what remains consistent is the fact that Christmas all over the world involves spending time with your loved ones, chowing down and giving gifts, which is all we really want anyways. Here’s a rundown of some of the most unique Christmas traditions around the world:

Christmas Tree


From beach parties to spring cleaning, Christmas celebrations take many different forms around the globe:

Advent – For the four Sundays leading up to Christmas, some Christians light a candle on an advent wreath and fast leading up to the coming of Christ

Julian Calendar – Many countries in Eastern Europe with predominantly Othodox churches celebrate Christmas according to the Julian Calendar, meaning Christmas doesn’t happen until early January

Epiphany – It is traditional to celebrate 12 days after Christmas with a feast in countries such as Spain

Christmas Bonus – Residents of countries like Brazil, the Philippines and Italy are gifted with an extra paycheque or ‘13th Salary’ during Christmas time to help pay for gifts and other expenses

Spring Cleaning – The time right before Christmas becomes a time for house repairs, cleaning and renovations in countries like Trinidad

Bondi Beach Party – UK expats make a tradition of spending Christmas on the beach BBQing, swimming and drinking together

Three red candles are lit in a traditional Christmas wreath.


In some countries Santa can expect huge portions of treats, in some Santa isn’t left any food at all, and in some Santa’s friends are the ones receiving food. The most varying Christmas treats are as follows:

Letters – Santa is watching his weight and only takes letters from children in Germany

Cookies and milk – A perfect pairing for Santa that is traditional in Canada & USA

Beer – A generous beverage left out for Santa in some parts of Europe and the South Pacific

Coffee – It’s a long night for Santa, so some caffeine from children in Sweden is probably much appreciated

Mince Pie – To contrast all of the sweets, Santa can enjoy some protein with a mince pie from children in the UK

Hay and Water – Santa doesn’t get any love, but the reindeer are left a treat from children in Argentina

Rice Pudding – It may not sound that exciting, but apparently it’s the treat of choice for Santa in Denmark

Cookies and Milk


Think turkey is the only way to go on Christmas? Think again…

Fried Chicken – Going to KFC for Christmas has become a huge tradition in Japan, and people even pre-order in order to guarantee their buckets of goodness on the 25th

Numbers Game – Christmas meals must include an odd number of dishes for good luck in Bulgaria

Goose – The traditional meat to feast on in countries like Germany

Seafood – It’s a catholic tradition to avoid eating meat on holidays, so seafood has become a traditional choice in Europe. Never to be outdone, a smorgasbord of sea creatures is the traditional way to Christmas feast in Italy

Cod – Keeping with the European seafood theme, Portugal likes to stick to their favourite kind of fish for Christmas

BBQ – Christmas falls in the summertime in Australia, so obviously the barbie is essential for preparing meats and seafood

Reindeer – Yes, it’s morbid, but reindeer makes an occasional appearance during the holiday feasts in places like Iceland and Alaska, USA

Christmas tradition of fried chicken in a basket.

Superstitions and Beliefs

Gifts under the tree aren’t so traditional in other countries, but choking hazards are:

Leave some leftovers – Food is either left at an empty chair or on the table after dinner for the ancestors to eat in countries like Bulgaria

Lucky Items – Almonds, coins, and other miscellaneous items are baked inside meal items in countries like Finland and Norway, and the person who finds it in their serving is blessed with good luck

Canoes and Dolphins – Santa’s sleigh and reindeer have been replaced by a canoe and dolphins in Hawaii

Krampus – In some European countries, Krampus (a goat demon) is believed to be a violent mythical creature who scares children into behaving, beats bad children and drags them to his lair

Socks by the Window – Santa exchanges socks for presents in Brazil

Gifts in Shoes – Presents aren’t left under the tree, but rather in or around your shoes in places like Argentina, Belgium and Germany