Everyone has their own family traditions at Christmas, from when the decorations go up to what happens after Christmas dinner (Queens speech or nap). I’ve searched the internet to find, what are to me, the strangest traditions found throughout the world that I’d like to experience on my future travels. So sit back, put the Christmas songs on, grab some eggnog as we take a whistle stop tour of the 5 strangest Christmas traditions from around the world.
Gävle Goat, Sweden
Every year since 1966, on the 1st December the people of Gävle, Sweden, put up an enormous (13 metre 42.5 foot tall) goat in the grounds of their castle to mark advent. Unfortunately for the goat it has unwittingly become the butt of its own tradition where arsonists attempt to burn the poor fellow, since 1966 it has been burnt to the ground a total of 29 times and hit by a car once.
To try and counter this, it has been soaked in anti-flammable liquid this year, although i’d suggest going early in December if you wanted to see him in the future. He also has his very own Twitter account so you can check on him regularly, follow him or view his Twitter by clicking here.
Shared by many European countries, St, Nicholas has an evil accomplice in Krampus. While good old St. Nick hands out gifts to nice little boys and girls, the Krumpus is said to whisk away naughty children in his sack. In the first week in December people (usually young men) dress up as the Krampus and scare children by clattering chains and bells while walking the streets.
Kentucky Fried Christmas Dinner, Japan
Christmas isn’t a big deal in Japan, and is considered more of a novelty in all but a few small secular communities. Having said that, good old KFC have become the unwitting benefactor in a new, rather quirky tradition of having KFC for dinner on the 25th of December. KFC have embarrassed this new tradition, and have advertising showing complimenting it. I’ve attached a picture of their latest advert, even without understanding Japanese I feel it still has the Christmas spirit.
The Yule Lads, Iceland
Snow White may have 7 Dwarves, but Iceland has 13 Trolls who come out to play harmless tricks on the Icelandic children for the 13 days before Christmas. Icelandic children put shoes by the window for these 13 days and the “Yule Lads” give gifts to good children and rotting potatoes to naughty ones.
Their names are supposed to hint toward their mischievous natures and are;
Stekkjastaur, Giljagaur, Stúfur, Þvörusleikir, Pottaskefill, Askasleikir, Hurðaskellir, Skyrgámur, Bjúgnakrækir, Gluggagægir, Gáttaþefur, Ketkrókur and Kertasníkir.
Sheep-Cote Clod, Gully Gawk, Stubby, Spoon-Licker, Pot-Scraper, Bowl-Licker, Door-Slammer, Skyr-Gobbler, Sausage-Swiper, Window-Peeper, Doorway-Sniffer, Meat-Hook and Candle-Stealer
Hiding Brooms, Norway
Perhaps one of the most unorthodox Christmas Eve traditions comes from Norway, where people hide their brooms. It’s a tradition that dates back centuries to when people believed that witches and evil spirits came out on Christmas Eve looking for brooms to ride on. To this day, many people still hide their brooms in the safest place in the house to stop them from being stolen. It seems to me, they are confusing Christmas with Halloween personally.