5 slightly bonkers Christmas traditions from around the world

We’ve been lucky enough to spend Christmas in many different countries across the globe. One of the best things about this is getting to see just how different the festive period looks in each place and the individual traditions, customs and quirks they each have.

But some places’ Christmas customs range from the “eh?” to the quite frankly bizarre. Here are the most bonkers ones from around the world.

Japan - Kentucky fried christmas

While you’re tucking into your turkey with all the trimmings and lashings of gravy this year, spare a thought for the workers of KFC in Japan. Not only do they not get the day off, it’s also their busiest day of the entire year.

Japan has never had a strong Christmas tradition. So in 1974, some clever KFC executive decided to invent one by marketing a special festive meal. Surprisingly, it blew up and over the past 40 years has become a phenomenon completely peculiar to Japan.

Families sit down to specially designed Christmas feast packages which, as well as the fried chicken, can include stuff like wine and cakes. They’re so popular that it’s advisable to order in advance or expect long queues. Many stores have eager customers waiting in line for hours on end.

The Netherlands - Check ya creps

For most of us the chosen receptacle for Santa to leave his haul of gifts in is a stocking placed above the fireplace. In The Netherlands however, it’s ever so slightly different.

Rather than a stocking, children wake up to their presents stuffed in their own shoes. Tradition dictates that they should fill their shoes with carrots and hay for Santa’s horses. In exchange they receive a boot-full of prezzies.

Considering kids have tiny feet, Christmas must be far more economical for families in The Netherlands.

Catalonia - Sh*tting logs

Tio de Nadal is a bizarre character from Catalan folklore that takes the form of a small wooden log adorned with a cheeky face, red hat, and spindly legs made of twigs.

Beginning on December the 8th children will leave Tio a little something to eat each night before they head to bed. In the days leading up to Christmas they have to take good care of it to ensure it’s not cold or hungry.

Come Christmas day, legend dictates that the children then have to beat the Tio with sticks while singing it traditional festive songs until it craps out their presents into the fireplace. Nice.

Austria - Cranky Krampus

As if the idea of some omniscient stranger monitoring your behaviour all year to determine whether you’ve been naughty or nice, then breaking into your house via your chimney isn’t scary enough, save some sympathy for the kids of Austria.

They’ve got a truly terrifying creature called Krampus to contend with. This petrifying beast sports large horns, long hair, fangs and demon-like features. Worse still, he carries a sheaf of sticks which he uses to literally beat naughty kids before dragging them off to the underworld.

Austria must have the best behaved children in the world, or at least the most traumatised. But being over 1,500 years old, this tradition doesn’t look like it’s going anywhere.

Norway - Hide ya wives, hide ya kids, and hide ya brooms too

How do you stop evil spirits and wicked witches from spreading their malevolence far and wide on Christmas Eve? Hide your brooms obviously. That way they’ve got no vehicles to get around on.

Traditionally it was believed in Norway that Christmas Eve was when witches and such were most active, but no one wants to get hexed at this time of year. So began the tradition of hiding anything they might use to travel on.

Presumably this also gives you an excuse to delay the cleaning up until at least Boxing Day. Just in case, you know.

Even more from UNiDAYS

We bring the best discounts from the best brands to college and uni students, as well as exclusive videos, articles and loads of tips and advice to make your student life even better - all for free!

  • Join now or log in to start saving on everything from food comas and fashion to (finally) getting fitter.
  • Verify now to start saving on everything from food comas and fashion to (finally) getting fitter.

  • Got a lot to say? We're always looking for awesome guest bloggers. Get in touch with your ideas!