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Unusual Christmas traditions

From around the World

Santa Claus takes on many different forms, and Christmas traditions vary greatly from country to country.

Here is a list of 15 interesting ones. Maybe you can incorporate some of them in your home.

1. Serbia

Here it's not tradition to give presents at Christmas, but on the Sundays before. Two Sundays before 25 December, the children tie up their mum. She then has to pay a ransom in the form of gifts to be freed. The following Sunday the same happens with dad.

2. Germany

As a part of celebrations in Germany, Austria and some parts of Switzerland, St Nicholas is accompanied by a scary devil-like character as a warning to children not to be bad. In France there's a similar figure called La Pere Fouettard.

3. Italy

A good witch called La Befana delivers children's presents on January 6th using a broomstick. But if you've been bad, expect lumps of coal.

4. Netherlands

In Holland Santa Claus is called Sinterklaas. He doesn't live at the North Pole, but in sunny Spain and arrives by steamboat with a helper called Black Peter.

5. Scandinavia

Across the region a gnome like character, called Tomte in Sweden and Nisse in Norway, is believed to protect barns and brings presents too. Every Christmas the children leave a bowl of porridge out for him.

6. Spain

In the region of Catalonia traditional Nativity scenes get an addition in the form of a character called the 'caganer'. The figure is squatting as if going to the toilet.

7. Australia

Of course Down Under Christmas falls in summer. There, Father Christmas swaps his reindeer for 'six white boomers' or kangaroos. It's also traditional to enjoy a barbecue on the beach on the big day.

8. India

For Christians on the sub-continent fir trees aren't common. Instead mango trees are often decorated instead and mango leaves used to brighten up homes.

9. Ukraine

It may sound more like a Halloween tradition than a Christmas one but Ukrainians decorate their Christmas trees with spider webs. Legend says that a magic spider once visited a poor family at Christmas and turned the webs in their home into gold and silver.

10. Greece

Basil is wrapped around a cross and used to sprinkle holy water around the house to scare away goblins called killantzaroi. It's also traditional to burn old shoes for good luck in the following year.

11. Venezuela

In the capital, Caracas, roads are closed off so that locals can blade to morning mass.

12. Brazil

Brazilians celebrate the legend that animals gain the power of speech on Christmas night while children here get their presents in their shoes rather than stockings from Papa Noel.

13. Czech Republic

Czechs are taught not to eat anything on Christmas Eve until a special dinner is served so that they can see a mystical 'golden pig' appear. Another tradition sees a girl putting a cherry twig in water on December 4th. If it blossoms before Christmas Eve the girl will marry the following year.

14. Poland

The main meal is on Christmas Eve, there are traditionally 12 courses, two of which are carp.

15. Iceland

There are 13 Santas in Iceland. These Yule lads, trolls, traditionally come down from the mountain one by one during the days of the festive period leaving presents or rotten potatoes depending on the child's behaviour. They have names like Door Sniffer and Meat Hook.

City: Rome
Country: Italy
By: By
Published on 24-Dec-2015
Section City Live
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