'Tis the season for festive lights, cozy gatherings, and the age-old traditions that make the holidays a truly magical time. While many of us are familiar with the classic customs like a roast dinner with all the trimmings, decorating the tree and leaving a carrot for Santa’s reindeer, there are some quirky Christmas traditions you might not know about. Here are some of our favorites:
1. Spain - The Pooping Log
In Catalonia, Spain, Christmas comes with a touch of bawdy humor in the shape of a log named "Caga Tió," which translates to "pooping log." In the days leading up to Christmas the tree is “fed” with treats, and on Christmas Eve, villagers gather to sing traditional songs while beating the log with sticks. As if by magic, the log then "poops out" small gifts and sweets to be shared by everyone.
2. Japan - KFC Christmas Feast
Christmas may not be a traditional holiday in Japan, but a unique tradition has emerged all the same in the shape of a Christmas feast from KFC. Thanks to a successful marketing campaign in the 1970s, many Japanese families now indulge in a bucket of fried chicken as their holiday meal. It’s become so popular that reservations are often required at KFC branches during the festive season.
3. Ukraine - Spider Web Decorations
In Ukraine, it's common to find Christmas trees adorned with spider web decorations. Legend has it that a poor widow and her children once found a Christmas tree in the woods but couldn't afford to decorate it. When they woke up on Christmas morning, the tree was covered in sparkling spider webs that turned into strands of gold and silver. Today, spider web decorations are made and gifted as a symbol of good luck and prosperity.
4. Iceland - Yule Lads
Move over, Santa Claus and his elves – Iceland has its own squad of gift-givers known as the Yule Lads. These mischievous characters, said to be the sons of the mountain-dwelling Grýla, visit children on the thirteen nights leading up to Christmas. Each has a distinct personality and leaves either gifts or potatoes in the shoes that children place on their windowsills, depending on whether they’ve made the good or naughty list that year.
5. Venezuela - Roller Skating to Mass
In the Venezuelan capital of Caracas, it's tradition to attend early morning Christmas Mass on roller skates for a unique and active way to celebrate the season. Every year between 16th and 24th December, roads are closed to traffic as people of all ages skate their way to church in this festive display of holiday spirit.
As we unwrap the traditions that make Christmas special, it's fascinating to discover the diverse ways people around the world celebrate this time of year. Whether it's a log that delivers gifts or a bucket of fried chicken, these traditions remind us that the magic of Christmas can be found in some surprising places.
Traveling for the holidays? Don’t forget to top-up your Breeze eSIM!