Strangest Christmas Traditions From Around the World

Elena P.


Christmas traditions differ around the world, but some are cool, unique, or just downright weird. Here are the ten strangest Christmas traditions around the world.

The Pooping Man – Catalonia

A Caganer (Image source: Amusing Planet)

In their nativity scenes, Catalonians include the Caganer – a small figure of a defecating man. Legend says that if a countryside family did not put a Caganer in the nativity scene, they would have a very bad year collecting vegetables. The figurine is a symbol of fertility and good fortune.

Unique Seafood – Greenland

Kiviak – interesting, strange, or just gross? (Image source: Phactual)

Greenland has some special Christmas recipes – Mattak is raw whale skin, served with blubber; Kiviak is 500 auk birds stuffed into a seal skin, and left to ferment for 7 months.

The Naughty or Nice Shoe – Germany

Image source: thefairytaletraveler

In Germany, children leave a shoe outside their house on December 5th, which is filled with sweets overnight; however, naughty children will awake to find a tree branch inside their shoe instead.

8-legged Decorations – Ukraine

Image source: Blog Cammy

Ukrainians seem to have Halloween-themed Christmases – they use fake spiders and webs to decorate their trees. According to the local folklore, there was a poor woman who could not afford to decorate her Christmas tree. The next morning, however, her children woke up to see the tree covered with webs. When the first light of Christmas morning touched the web threads, they turned into gold and silver and the family was never left for wanting again. Hence, it is believed that seeing a spiderweb on Christmas morning brings luck.

Early Wake-up Call – Caracas, Venezuela

Image source: Metromarks

In Venezuela’s capital city, Caracas, young children tie one end of a string to their big toe, leaving the other end hanging outside their bedroom window before bed on Christmas Eve. The next morning, streets are closed off to cars until 8 am, so people can roller-skate to the Early Morning Mass – and tug on any strings they see hanging out windows.

Christmas Sauna – Finland

Image source: CNN travel

Most Finnish families have their own sauna because it’s believed that a sauna ‘elf’ lives in there to protect it and to make sure people behave themselves. Every Christmas Eve, people head to their sauna, strip to their toes, and enjoy themselves. They have to leave by sunset though, because then the place is for the spirits of dead ancestors.

The Yule Cat – Iceland

yule cat.jpg
Image source: Reddit Blog

The Yule Cat is known to stalk the Icelandic hills. This feline turns into a carnivorous monster if you do not give him an offering of new clothing for the cat to have in the cold winter – the Yule Cat will know if the clothing is old. The emphasis on the legend is to ensure everyone has new gifts, encouraging Icelanders to all work very hard prior to Christmas so that they can give gifts to their loved ones. If you do not receive new clothes, you can’t offer anything to the Yule Cat, and you will be eaten.

Burning of the Devil – Guatemala

burning-the-devil-photo-by-santiago-billy-prem.jpgImage source: The Mixed Culture

Before Christmas, people sweep out their houses, and each neighbourhood will create a large pile of dirt. An effigy of the devil is then placed on top, and the entire pile is burned.

Throw the Pudding – Slovakia

Image source: NerdyGaga

In Slovakia, the eldest senior man of the house throws a spoonful of loksa pudding at the ceiling – the more that sticks, the luckier that family will be.

The Pooping Log – also Catalonia

Tió_de_Nadal.jpgImage source: Wikimedia Commons

Catalonians also have the Tió de Nadal – the pooping log. On Christmas Eve, the log is decorated with a face and blanket, then placed halfway into a fire and beaten with sticks. According to Catalan mythology, the Christmas Log brings small presents on Christmas. The log is bashed, so it will defecate out presents, candies and wafers, instead of stinky herring. Christmas is then celebrated as everyone reaches below the log’s blanket to pull out their “gifts” of defecated candy and presents.


What are your Christmas traditions, if you even celebrate it? Have you heard of any other strange Christmas traditions? Whatever you do over the break, happy holidays!


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