The festive period is seen as a holiday season around the globe and different countries celebrate in a variety of different ways. Whilst Christmas itself is a celebration with religious connotations, it has developed over the years into a more general festival, adapted based on the beliefs of the local population.
When travelling during the festive season, you can experience many different Christmas traditions all at once and as long as you don’t mind the often chilly weather, it’s a great experience to enjoy. Christmas can creep up on you though, so if you’re planning on beginning some winter travels its best to get started now!
For those who do decide to travel over Christmas, it’s worth picking a location with a particularly interesting tradition to enjoy. With that in mind, here are some of the quirkier celebrations you might want to get involved in.
KFC Christmas, Japan
One of the most famous yet unusual Christmas traditions is Japan’s dedication to KFC on Christmas Day. In 1974, KFC ran an advertising campaign throughout Japan titled ‘Kentucky for Christmas!’ which was so successful that it became an embedded tradition for years to come. In fact, KFC on Christmas Day is so deep-seated in the Japanese culture that these usually walk-in focused fast-food restaurants are forced to take orders in advance. So, if you do decide that a Japanese Christmas is for you, make sure to get your KFC order in early!
Secret Santa, Europe and the West
For those in the West, this might not be an unusual tradition, but for many others, the idea of Secret Santa is very different from their usual celebrations. Secret Santa involves a group of individuals putting their names into a hat and picking them out randomly; then, each member of the group buys a gift for the individual that they pulled out, resulting in everyone receiving a gift. The key is for all of this to be done in secret so that nobody knows who is buying a gift for who. This allows for a fun game when all the presents are given out, as the receivers try to guess who bought them a present.
Often, Secret Santa comes with a defined budget to make sure that all gifts given are on a level playing field. There are plenty more Secret Santa rules, variations and considerations to consider but this is easily one of the most popular celebrations in the world. Give it a go if you’ve never tried it!
Gävle Goat, Sweden
The 13-metre tall Gävle Goat is the world’s largest straw goat in the world, erected annually since 1966 over the Christmas period. Whilst famous for its size, the real reason the goat is on this list is because of what has happened to the goat in the years since its first appearance. More often than not, the goat is burnt down as an adopted Swedish tradition. To be clear, this isn’t legal or encouraged, but the people of Sweden have adopted the burning of the goat as a type of challenge – so much so that the goat’s lifespan is live-streamed throughout the Christmas period to record any successful attempts. Definitely worth reading more about!
Broom Hiding, Norway
In Norway, there is a traditional view that Christmas Eve is linked with the arrival of evil spirit including, but not limited to, witches. As an extension of this belief, a tradition has developed where families will hide their brooms before they go to sleep to deter any witches from attempting to steal them. Simple but unusual – definitely worth asking about if you’re in the Scandinavia region during the festive season.
Roller Blading, Venezuela
Last but definitely not least, there is a tradition in the Venezuelan capital of Caracas for citizens to get up early and rollerblade to church in the morning. Christmas mass is a very common occurrence across the world, but rollerblading to get there is significantly more unusual and this tradition is so embedded in the city’s culture that the roads are closed to permit it happening. Who knows exactly why rollerblading became a tradition but it’s definitely fun and quirky!
These aren’t the only quirky Christmas traditions but they’re definitely some of the most interesting. Be sure to do some research and find the perfect place for you to visit this Christmas season, you never know what tradition you might bump into and enjoy.