Christmas Around the World: 6 Unusual and Wonderful Traditions - 96five Family Radio

Christmas Around the World: 6 Unusual and Wonderful Traditions

Christmas traditions look a little different around the world than here in Australia including roller skating, wooden logs and fried chicken.

By Amy ChengThursday 8 Dec 2022ChristmasReading Time: 4 minutes

Backyard barbeques, celebrations by the beach and street parties are just some of the Christmas traditions we love in Australia.

When December comes around, we can expect to hear Christmas tunes blasting in shopping centres and to walk past pop-up booths to take photos with Santa.

However, countries around the world celebrate Christmas a little differently with different Christmas traditions.

Venezuela: Roller skating to church

Forget walking to church, in Caracas, the capital of Venezuela, it is customary to travel to the annual Christmas church service on roller skates.

The practice is so widespread that many roads are closed until 8am to ensure safe travels for Christmas worshippers.

Legend has it that children go to bed with a piece of string tied round their toe and the other end dangling out of the window.

Skaters rolling past will then give the string a tug to let children know it’s time to put their skates on.

Mexico Christmas Traditions: Nativity scenes instead of Christmas trees

Locals in Mexico put up elaborate displays of Nativity scenes called “nacimientos” in their homes or gardens throughout the Christmas season.

In public, displays can also be seen around the community, with scenes designed by local artists and craftspeople.

As it gets closer to Christmas, more characters are added – baby Jesus is added on Christmas Eve and the three kings show up at the beginning of January.

Although some Mexican families still put up Christmas trees, these nativity scenes are a much more common Christmas tradition during the festive period.

Nativity Scene

Spain: A popping log bearing candy and presents

Every Christmas in Catalan, Spain, children feed scraps of food to a log called Caga Tió, which means “poop log” (see feature image).

Th wooden log has a drawn-on face, big smile, two sticks acting as front legs and a traditional Catalan red hat, and can be found in markets for people to purchase at the beginning of December.

Children are supposed to take care of him every single day until Christmas, feeding him sweets, watering him and even covering him with a blanket on cold nights.

They believe that the more they feed Caga Tió, the more presents he will give them on Christmas day.

On Christmas Day, the children take the log to the fireplace and hit it with sticks as they sing a song. Afterwards, the children go to another room to pray for presents.

When they return, they will find many sweets that they are told have been popped out by the log.

Czech Republic: Shoes, rituals and marriage

On Christmas morning in the Czech Republic, women who are not married take part in a ritual involving a shoe and marriage.

Standing outside with their back to the door of their house, they toss one of their shoes over their shoulder and turns to see how it lands.

If it lands with its toe facing the door, then that means she will be married within the year, however, if the heel is facing the door, it means they’ll stay single for another year.

Germany: Shoes to determine if children have been naughty or nice

Germany has its own tradition with shoes, but this one is used to determine if children have been good or bad.

On the evening of December 5, children will leave a freshly polished boot outside their bedroom door.

They do this in hopes that St Nicholas (not to be confused with Santa Claus) and his assistant Knecht Ruprecht will visit their house.

In the morning, they will wake to find either the shoe filled with sweets if they’ve been good or only a branch if they’ve been bad.

Each year on December 6, Germans remember the death of Nicholas of Myra, a Greek Christian bishop known for miracles and giving gifts secretly.

Japan: KFC for Christmas dinner

In a marketing campaign gone right, it is considered customary to eat KFC for Christmas in Japan.

In 1974, the American fast-food restaurant released a festive marketing campaign in the country with the slogan “Kurisumasu ni wa kentakkii!”, which means Kentucky for Christmas.

As part of the campaign, a bucket of KFC’s famous fried chicken was sold along with a bottle of wine, to suggest it was not just a kid’s meal but could be enjoyed by adults too.

Over the years, the campaign has evolved to include Colonel statues dressed in Santa outfits outside restaurants across the country and Christmas-exclusive menu items.

This Christmas tradition is so popular in Japan that restaurant reservations and specially-packaged delivery orders need to be placed months in advance.

The Japanese also enjoy Strawberry Shortcake on Christmas, which is sold as Christmas Cake in the country.


Article supplied to 96five with thanks to Hope Media.

About the Author: Amy is a writer at Hope 103.2 Sydney.