Christmas around the world
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Top 10 Unique Holiday Traditions Around the World

‘Tis the season for traditions to steal the spotlight, creating a festive mosaic that makes this time of the year extra special. Beyond the familiar classics like tree decorating and gift exchanges, there’s a captivating realm of unconventional holiday practices just waiting to be uncovered. Let’s unwrap the charm of the top 10 offbeat holiday traditions from around the world! 🙂

1. Japan’s Kentucky Christmas Feast

In Japan, Christmas isn’t complete without a feast from KFC. The tradition started in the ’70s when an ad campaign portrayed fried chicken as the perfect holiday meal. Now, it’s become a nationwide phenomenon, with people placing orders months in advance.

Colonel Sanders in Tokyo, Japan in 2020 / Photo Credit: Yuichi Yamazaki/Getty Images

2. Iceland’s Yule Lads: Not Your Ordinary Santas

Move over, Santa Claus. Iceland has its own version – 13 mischievous Yule Lads. These lads visit children in the 13 nights leading up to Christmas, leaving either treats or potatoes, depending on the child’s behavior. Each lad has a distinct personality, adding a touch of folklore to the festive season.

Photo Credit:

3. South Africa’s Beach Christmas

While many dream of a white Christmas, South Africans opt for a sandy one. With December being summertime in the southern hemisphere, it’s common for families to hit the beach, enjoying the festive season under the warm sun. You will even spot Santa Claus surfing! 🙂

4. India’s Christmas Banana Trees

In the southern state of Kerala, India, Christmas takes on a tropical twist. Instead of traditional Christmas trees, banana or mango trees are adorned with decorations and lights. It’s a vibrant celebration that merges Indian traditions with the festive spirit.

5. Italy’s Witchy Christmas Visitor

In Italy, the festive season welcomes a unique character – La Befana, a friendly witch. On the night of January 5th, she delivers gifts to children, flying on her broomstick. Legend has it that she missed the visit of the Three Wise Men and has been searching for the Christ child ever since.

6. Norway’s Hide and Seek Broomsticks

Drawing inspiration from playful folklore, Norwegians embrace a whimsical holiday tradition. On Christmas Eve, the custom involves discreetly stashing brooms away, rooted in the belief that mischievous witches and spirits emerge on this enchanted night. This delightful quirk adds a playful touch to the celebratory ambiance, making the holiday season all the more magical.

7. Roller Skating to Mass in Venezuela

In the vibrant streets of Venezuela, an unconventional yet spirited tradition takes center stage during the Christmas season. Instead of the traditional stroll to midnight Mass, locals of all ages trade their shoes for roller skates, gliding joyfully through the lively neighborhoods en route to the church. This unique fusion of festive merriment and religious reverence transforms the journey to Mass into a lively celebration, creating a dynamic and unforgettable experience that beautifully captures the essence of Venezuelan holiday spirit.

Christmas-themed roller skating on the streets of Venezuela / Photo Credit: Getty Images

8. Australia’s Surfing Santa

Down under, Santa doesn’t need a sleigh. Australians celebrate Christmas in the summer, and Santa often ditches the reindeer for a surfboard. Beaches are adorned with Santas catching waves, embodying the laid-back Aussie spirit. At the break of Christmas Eve morning, crowds from various corners of the country converge on Bondi Beach to witness surfers donning Santa-style attire riding the waves. Now this is what I call catching the tide of holiday cheer, where Santa doesn’t just fly; he rides the waves high! 🙂

Photo Credit: RedBalloon

9. Finland’s Graveyard Picnics

In Finland, families often visit graveyards on Christmas Eve to honor their ancestors. Lighting candles and enjoying a peaceful picnic by the graves, it’s a touching way to connect with loved ones who have passed away during the holiday season.

Photo Credit: edunation

10. Mexico’s Night of the Radishes

In Oaxaca, Mexico, the Night of the Radishes is a spectacular event where locals carve intricate scenes into giant radishes. This tradition, dating back to the 18th century, has evolved into a vibrant competition, showcasing the artistic skills of the community.

Oaxaca radish festival / Photo Credit: Anna Bruce/Culture Trip

The beauty of holiday traditions lies in their diversity. From feasting on KFC in Japan to carving radishes in Mexico, these unconventional customs add a touch of magic to the festive season. As we embrace the traditions that make our holidays special, let’s also celebrate the rich tapestry of customs that make this time of the year truly unique.

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