Holiday Traditions

25 Dec 2014 by Lauren Kisicki, No Comments »

As odd as some of our American holiday traditions may seem, people in other places do things that are even weirder. Here’s a look at some of the quirkiest holiday traditions from around the world.

Christmas Fried Chicken:

Despite the fact that the majority of people in Japan are not Christian, they do have a Christmas tradition that has lived on for 40 years: a trip to KFC. In 1974, a “Kurisumasu ni wa kentakkii!” (Kentucky for Christmas!) marketing campaign from the American chain KFC  was launched. Ever since, the restaurant has been a Japanese hotspot on the holiday. To this day, sales that night typically outpace those of the rest of the year.

A Japanese KFC packed at Christmastime. Credit:

The Flaming Goat:

West of Japan, in the Swedish town of Gävle, there is a holiday tradition of building a 20-foot “Yule Goat” out of straw. And, over 50% of the time, a group of meddling kids (unidentified criminal arsonists) attempt to burn the Yule Goat down. You can follow the goat on Twitter here.

The Gavle goat. Credit:

“Artificial” Christmas Trees:

In India, Christian make up 2% of the population. However, that’s still 24 million people. Since there aren’t any true “Christmas trees” in the rural country, people will often adorn banana or mango trees with ornaments. In southern India, people often put oil-lamps of clay on their flat roof-tops to celebrate the season.

A mango tree in India decorated in India. Credit:

Spider Trees:

The majority of Christmas tree decorations in the Ukraine are similar to those in America, but there is one major decoration difference: Ukrainians often decorate their trees with spider webs. According to a folk tale there, there was once a very poor family that couldn’t afford to decorate their Christmas tree. As a result, s spider spun its web around the tree, and when the first light of Christmas day, it turned into a beautiful web of silver and gold.

A Ukrainian Christmas tree decorated with spider webs. Credit:

Holiday Terrors:

Beware the Yule Cat and Grýla! According to Icelandic legend, the Cat terrorizes the countryside, especially targeting people who don’t receive clothes for Christmas. Grýla is a three-headed ogress with goat horns. Her sons, on the other hand, are the Yule Lads, the duo who give gifts to the good children and rotten vegetables to the bad.

The Icelandic Yule Cat. Credit:

There are plenty more wacky beliefs and traditions surrounding the holiday season, but these are some of the oddest.


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