Christmas Eve Traditions: Christmas tree and atmosphere

Unusual Christmas Eve Traditions Worldwide

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You know, when it comes to Christmas, there’s a world of traditions out there, and some of them are so downright weird (in the most delightful way, of course) that they make you wonder if elves had a hand in inventing them.

From the mysterious act of hiding brooms to diving headfirst into a bucket of KFC, you can’t help but admire the sheer creativity of different cultures during this time of year. It’s like a worldwide holiday mashup, and I’m totally here for it!

So, without further ado, let’s unwrap 8 unique Christmas Eve traditions from around the world (mine included).

8 Unexpected Christmas Eve Traditions

1. Sweden – Donald Duck Showtime

Each Christmas Eve at 3 pm, it’s Donald Duck time, and Sweden knows how to rock it! Families all over the country gather around the TV for ‘From All of Us to All of You,’ a Disney show featuring the one and only Donald Duck and his crew. This officially kicks off Christmas celebrations for many Swedes.

This Donald Duck Christmas Eve tradition has been captivating Swedes since 1959. Back in the days, it was a rare sight to see cartoons on Swedish TV. So, when Donald made his holiday debut, it was like a special Christmas gift. It’s been a Swedish Christmas holiday staple ever since, passed down from one generation to the next.

2. Norway – Broom-Be-Gone

In Norway, Christmas Eve is all about keeping brooms under wraps!

This quirky tradition goes way back. Legend has it that when the Christmas season rolls in, witches and spirits come out to play. These nocturnal troublemakers are said to roam the earth, and guess what they’re after? Brooms! Apparently, it’s their preferred mode of transport for mysterious midnight escapes.

So, what do Norwegians do? On Christmas Eve, they hide away and lock up tight those trusty cleaning tools.

But this isn’t just about keeping the spirits at bay. It’s also a way of saying, “Hey, Christmas, we’re ready for you!” By doing this, they’re not just protecting their homes; they’re inviting the holiday season with open arms, ready for peace, joy, and a sprinkle of good luck.

And even if modern Norwegians may not firmly believe in witches and spirits, they still keep this tradition alive as a nod to their cultural roots.

3. Japan – KFCmas

In Japan, Christmas dinner isn’t just any meal—it’s a finger-lickin’ good KFC tradition!

You might wonder how this all began. It’s a tale that starts with a brilliant marketing campaign back in the 1970s. The manager of Japan’s very first KFC in Nagoya got the idea from the Western tradition of having turkey for Christmas and suggested fried chicken as a festive alternative.

And just like that, one of those tasty Christmas Eve traditions was born! As the years went by, the “KFC for Christmas” tradition became a big part of Japanese culture. Families and friends eagerly look forward to their annual KFC Christmas feast, which means you’ll find long lines at KFC outlets on Christmas Eve.

KFC Japan - Weird Christmas traditions
source: Unsplash

4. United States – The Christmas pickle ornament

In the United States, there’s a weird holiday tradition known as the Christmas pickle ornament. This decoration usually resembles a green pickle, often crafted from glass. The fun begins by hiding this special pickle within the branches of the Christmas tree on Christmas Eve, after all the other ornaments have found their place.

On Christmas morning, the whole family embarks on a jolly search to spot the hidden Christmas pickle ornament. The lucky person who spots it first is in for a treat or is said to have a year full of good luck coming their way.

The exact origin of the Christmas pickle ornament tradition is still a topic of debate. Some attribute it to German heritage, while others suspect it might be an American marketing invention.

Christmas ornaments
Source: Unsplash

And, of course, let’s not overlook another important tradition: Kids here know that if you want Santa to keep the gift train rolling, you leave out cookies and milk for the man (and carrots or hay for the reindeer) on Christmas Eve.

5. Spain – The Pooping Man

Here we are, right in the midst of one of those weird Christmas traditions! In Catalonia, a region in Spain, it’s customary to include a figurine of a man who appears to be defecating (the “Caganer”) within the nativity scene, alongside the classic characters of baby Jesus, Mary, Joseph and so on.

The presence of the “Caganer” in the nativity scene might seem quite unusual, but it’s deeply rooted in Catalan culture and has been a part of their Christmas Eve traditions for centuries. And believe it or not, he’s all about spreading good luck and is often seen as a symbol of fertility and prosperity for the coming year.

The fun part is that nowadays, you can find Caganer depictions of just about anyone, from Barack Obama to Madonna.

6. Germany – The ChristKind

This is one of the German Christmas traditions I grew up with, and it’s one I absolutely adore. I’m fortunate to belong to a family where Christmas has always been a time of pure magic, especially for us kids.

So, on Christmas Eve (“Heiligabend”) it’s time for two special things: decorating the Christmas tree and unwrapping gifts! But here’s where the enchantment kicks in: Kids dash out of the room while the adults sneakily place presents under the Christmas tree. Then, the little ones return to uncover the surprises, believing that “the Christ Child” (Christkind) magically delivered them while they were away.

But that’s not all about German Christmas traditions! Families often come together for a Midnight Mass at churches to celebrate the birth of Jesus, adding to the festive spirit of the night.

Xmas Tree Gifts
Source: Unsplash

7. Slovakia – Pudding Prophecies

In Slovakia, there is a fun tradition where the oldest man in the room gets to take a spoonful of pudding and throw it up on the ceiling. The more pudding that sticks to the ceiling, the luckier the household will be in the coming year.

Now, I have to admit, this tradition might not be appreciated everywhere, especially by the folks responsible for cleaning up the pudding splatter.

8. Czech Republic: The Shoe Tossing Tradition

Now, for our grand finale of Christmas Eve traditions, we’re hopping over to the Czech Republic, where love and shoes take center stage in a romantic twist!

On Christmas Eve, single women have a unique way to find out if they will marry in the following year. And no, it doesn’t involve pudding; it’s all about the shoes.

A woman will stand with her back to her front door and then throw one of her shoes over her shoulder. If the shoe lands with the heel towards the door, then it is believed she will remain single. If the shoe lands with the front of the shoe pointing towards the door, then it is thought that she will move out of her parent’s house and make wedding preparations.

What are Your Christmas Eve Traditions?

Isn’t it fascinating how different cultures have these unique and sometimes weird Christmas traditions? From hiding brooms to rich German Christmas traditions, it’s a reminder of the amazing diversity in our celebrations.

Now, let’s chat about your own Christmas Eve traditions. What are the things your family does during this season? It’s those personal customs and stories that make the holidays so memorable, right? So spill the beans, I’m all ears!

And if you’re looking to add even more magic to your holiday season, don’t forget to explore the best Christmas markets in Europe.

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