Strange Christmas Traditions from Around the World

Posted on October 05, 2016

Has it ever occurred to you that some people on the other side of the world might think it is strange for us Australians to have a BBQ on Christmas Day…? Or find it odd to eat cold meats, salad and pavlova for Christmas lunch in our backyards….?

Different cultures from around the world have different Christmas traditions, and whilst our Australian traditions may seem pretty normal to us… some other traditions listed below might seem completely insane!

5 Strangest Christmas Traditions

  1. Shoe-Tossing Singles

In the Czech Republic, it is customary for unmarried women to stand outside their home, facing their front door, and toss a shoe over your shoulder on Christmas Eve. If the shoe lands with the toe facing the door, you’re sure to be married within the year… naturally!


  1. The Christmas Devil

Whilst we are all familiar with Jolly Ole Saint Nick, you may be less familiar with his counterpart Krampus, the half goat, half demon Christmas Devil. Krampus is said to originate from century-old German traditions, invented as Saint Nick’s evil counterpart, who swats naughty children on December 6th – Krampusnacht, or Krampus Night. December 6 also happens to be Nikolaustag, or St. Nicholas Day.untitled

In modern parts of Germany, Austria, Hungry and surrounding areas, the tradition has evolved into a annual ‘devil’s run’ event, where (presumably drunken) men dress up as terrifying beasts and chase children through the streets… I think I’m happy to stick with Santa, flying reindeer and Elfish slaves.

  1. The Horses Skull

Not to be out-creeped, the people of Southern Wales hold deer a tradition called Mari Lwyd – where a horse’s skull on a cloaked stick is paraded through the streets around Christmas time.

You read correctly… Mari Lwyd involves digging up a horses skull, traditionally a mare’s, mounting it to a wooden pole, decorating it with ribbons and a sheet so that the skull appears to be some sort of terrifying hooded figure, and marching it around town singing Christmas songs.


Whilst the ancient origins are somewhat debated, similar festivities take place in various forms throughout Britain, often involving some sort of hooded horse, and singing locals carrying it from door to door.

  1. Roll to Mass

In Venezuela, rollerskating to morning mass in the weeks leading up to Christmas has some how taken a place in their traditional routine… so much so, that streets are often closed for traffic in the morning to allow safe passage for the skaters.

roller bladers

Furthermore, on Christmas Eve some Venezuelan children will sleep with a string tied around their big toe, and dangling out the front window, which can be tugged by passing roller skaters in the morning to wake up those who are sleeping-in too long!

  1. Kentucky Fried Christmas


Forget whatever traditional cuisine you might eat at Christmas… the Japanese tradition is to chow-down on the Colonel’s finest Kentucky Fried Chicken. People will actually cue for hours outside KFC on Christmas Eve, and even pre-order their chicken as early as October, to make sure they don’t miss out on their favourite Christmas cuisine.

This is a result of an extremely successful and genius KFC marketing campaign from 1974, called “Kurisumasu ni wa kentakkii!” (Kentucky for Christmas!) And whilst most Japanese don’t celebrate Christmas, as it is a predominantly non-Christian country, almost all of them indulge in this ‘finger licking’ Christmas delight.

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