Unusual Christmas Traditions

Festive season is well under way. And as we count hours to Christmas, we are looking forward to enjoying the popular traditions such as: a visit from Santa, Christmas pudding roast turkey and of course the mince pies! As much that this seems like a usual Christmas for most of us there are traditions that are very different yet widely celebrated by other nations.

Christmas started as a Christian tradition but people around the world have embraced the festive season and added their own ways of celebrating along the way. So, let’s look at the Christmas tradition that may be a little bit less known that smiley snowman or a decorated tree.

Bad Santa - Austria

 You might have come across bad Santa if you watched the popular Christmas comedy with the same title. However, it’s not just a movie, Bad Santa is a thing in Austria. A frightening creature called 'Krampus' (the evil accomplice of St Nicholas), is said to wander the streets in search of badly-behaved children. During the month of December, you can expect to see terrifying masked figures out and about scaring kids and adults alike with scary pranks.

A Cobweb Christmas: Ukraine

While you might be used to baubles, tinsel and stars, Ukrainians use decorations that mimic the natural formation of spiders' webs shimmering with dew.

The tradition goes back to the tale about a poor widow who could not afford to decorate a tree for her children. Legend has it that spiders in the house took pity on the family and spun beautiful webs all over the tree, which the children found on Christmas morning. Spiders' webs are also considered to be lucky in Ukrainian culture.

Pickle in the Tree: Germany

The Christmas tree tradition as we know it now is believed to have started in Germany back in the 16th Century, so it comes as no surprise that the nation still has some funny customs relating to the festive trees. One of them is to hide a pickle somewhere within the branches of the tree and give a gift to whichever child in the household finds it first. Although there are claims that the tradition may not even be German as one legend says that the Christmas pickle originated in Spain. Whatever the origin who wouldn’t get behind the pickle cucumber especially if there is a prize on offer.

Shoes by the Fire - The Netherlands

For most children in The Netherlands, the most important day during December is 5th December, when Sinterklaas (St. Nicholas) brings them their presents!

On the evening that Sinterklaas arrives in The Netherlands, children leave a shoe out by the fireplace or sometimes a windowsill and sing Sinterklaas songs. They hope that Sinterklaas will come during the night with some presents. They also believe that if they leave some hay and carrots in their shoes for Sinterklaas's horse, they will be left some sweets or small presents.

Festive rituals may vary significantly from country to country but regardless of their differences they have one thing in common, they matter the most when we can share them with our loved ones.  

Karolina Scott