The silly season is well upon us and Christmas is now just around the corner. ‘Tis the season for elaborate decoration, gingerbread baking and big family gatherings… but not for everyone. Depending on where you are in the world, you could be hiding your brooms from wicked witches, or even devouring KFC.
Here’s a look at Christmas traditions from around the world.
1. Krampus, Austria
In Austria, children live in fear of Krampus, a Christmas devil believed to be half-goat, half-demon. While Saint Nicholas rewards the well-behaved kids, his companion Krampus punishes the naughty children. The Krampus parade takes place at night, featuring marchers dressed in scary costumes with demonic masks, spiralling horns, whips and torches. That’s one way to keep the kids in line!
2. KFC, Japan
For some, Christmas conjures up thoughts of candy canes and holiday hams. But thanks to a clever marketing ploy by KFC, Japan now associates the day with Kentucky Fried Chicken. An estimated 3.6 million Japanese families eat KFC during the Christmas season, and millions of people brave the crazy queues weeks in advance to carry on the fired chicken tradition.
3. The Yule Cat, Iceland
The Yule Cat, a monster from Icelandic folklore, is a huge and vicious cat that wanders about the snowy countryside during Christmas time. Taking fashion policing to the extreme, the cat is said to eat anyone who has not received any new clothes to wear before Christmas Eve. So think twice before you ditch that Christmas sweater or those Christmas socks!
4. Giant Lantern Festival, Philippines
Held in mid-December in the City of San Fernando, this festival features a competition of giant lanterns that go up to 15 feet in size! Bright colours, intricate designs and striking displays of electricity now saturate the city, treating locals and tourists to a glowing parade of Christmas Spirit.
5. Hiding brooms, Norway.
Some Norwegians believe that Christmas Eve calls upon evil spirits and witches, who plot to steal household brooms so they can continue flight over the town. So naturally, some families hide their brooms, mops and brushes before they go to sleep to ward off the wicked thieves.
6. Letters to Santa, Canada
The elves get to work in Canada, where children are given the opportunity to write letters and receive personalised responses from Santa. So long as letters are sent to the special address, ‘Santa Claus. North Pole. HOHOHO. Canada’, then anyone, including those asking for candy or infinite jars of Nutella, will receive a customised response.
7. Beer and Mince Pie, Ireland
While many are known to leave milk and cookies for the hungry, hard-working Santa, the Irish do it a little differently. Kids of Ireland spoil Santa with a piece of mince pie and a pint of Guinness to wash it down. After visiting a few houses, jolly old St. Nick would be more than ready for his leap over the Atlantic!
So how do you celebrate Christmas? Are you indulging in a big feast and a cold beer? Or running away from Krampus the Christmas devil? The traditions are endless!
If you’re in the festive spirit, check out our blog on Spooky Halloween Traditions Around The World.