Tis the season. Christmas time. Everybody is rushing around trying to find the perfect gifts for their loved ones and the quest for supplies for the perfect Christmas meal has left supermarket shelves bare as if it was the end of the world!
It’s a manic time of the year filled with traditions and rituals that we happily repeat each year as they create special moments with our families and friends, no matter how strange they might be. Based on that, we thought we’d share with you how these traditions translate around the world. Just like the 12 days of Christmas, here are 12 of the weirdest Christmas traditions from around the world:
- In Australia, kids leave Santa a nice cold beer instead of milk and cookies to help him recharge before heading off to his next delivery.
- In South Africa, instead of indulging in ham, salads, mince pies or a roast, people snack on Christmas caterpillars from the Emperor moth, fried in oil. Mmm, delicious.
- In Norway, according to legend, witches and other spirits come out to play on Christmas Eve, so the women hide all brooms in the house before going to bed so the witches won’t steal them.
- In the Ukraine, instead of glittering ornaments and tinsel, Christmas trees are decorated with an artificial spider and web. According to the local folklore, there was a woman who could not afford to decorate their Christmas tree. However the next morning, her children woke up to see the tree covered with webs and when the first light of Christmas morning touched the web threads, they turned into gold and silver strands decorating the tree perfectly.. Hence, it is believed that seeing a spider web on Christmas morning brings good luck.
- Switzerland hosts the annual “ClauWau” – Santa Claus World Championship. Teams of Santa Clauses from around the world compete against one another in chimney climbing, snowball fighting, sledge racing, donkey trekking and Santa skiing.
- In Venezuela, between December 16-24, streets are closed off to cars until 8am for people to roller skate to the church. In order to wake up on time, some children tie a long piece of string to their big toe and letting the other end hang out of the window. The next morning, roller-skaters gliding past tug on any string they see hanging out, waking them up.
- In Japan, KFC is eaten at Christmas dinner. Instead of a Christmas turkey or ham and salads, it is the Colonel’s secret herbs and spices that do the trick. It originates from a marketing campaign in the 1970s, where KFC was associated with Christmas and has been passed on from parent to child ever since.
- In Iceland, there’s a mythical beast called “Jólakötturinn” (Yule Cat). Even though it sounds very sparkly and festive, it’s not. The Jólakötturinn is a huge, angry monster who attacks the badly dressed. Originated from Iceland’s farm folklore in medieval times, it was used to motivate workers during autumn, when wool was made ahead of the cold Scandinavian winter. Those who did not work hard enough would have to make do with that years’ rags – leaving them to the wrath of the Yule Cat, who apparently has a hatred of the scruffy.
- Instead of Santa Claus, children in Italy are waiting for Befana, a kind old witch (not like the Norwegian ones) who flies around on her broom delivering gifts. Their stockings will be filled with toys, candy and fruit if they have been good or a lump of coal, onions or garlic if they have been bad. Befana also makes use of her broom in a traditional way by tidying a spot before she leavesand as a thank you, she’ll receive a glass of wine from the mums and dads.
- In Estonia, a lot of families have their own sauna as it’s believed that a sauna “elf” lives in there to protect it and make sure people behave themselves. So every Christmas Eve, people head to their sauna to enjoy time as a family. After sunset though, the place is for the spirits of dead ancestors.
- Like in Australia, New Zealand celebrates Christmas in the warm summer months. Their Christmas Tree is the pohutukawa, it is in bloom in summer and grows on the North Island, mainly in coastal areas and has vibrant red blossoms.
- Where are letters sent to Santa Claus? To the North Pole? Did you know that Santa Claus actually has his own postal code? It is H0H 0H0, which is a place in Canada. However, letters – those that bypass parents – used to end up undelivered because there was no centralised address for Santa Claus himself. So, for the past 30 years, each letter that is received is opened and replied to by volunteers.
Quite funny what people are up to around the world when celebrating Christmas. What about you? Do you have a story to share? We love to hear from you.
We at Teletrac Navman wish you and your family a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Enjoy the festive season with your loved ones. If you like to find out more about GPS tracking, click here for the Santa tracker.