12 Amazing Christmas Traditions Worldwide

Christmas is about so many different things: food, family, friends and much more. But perhaps what makes the holidays even more fun is the fact that countries around the world have developed their own Christmas traditions. We’re highlighting some strikingly cool or cute ones for you – feel free to get in on the action too!

1. The Christmas Chicken

Christmas is all about food and in Japan especially about three letters: KFC. Crowds of people flock to the American fast food chain for – grab your drumsticks – “Kurisumasu ni wa kentakkii!” aka “Kentucky At Christmas!” The tradition of eating “(fried) Christmas chicken” dates back to a 1974 marketing campaign. KFC still sells most meals on Christmas Eve.

2. The winning ticket

Since the end of the nineteenth century, the Spanish National Lottery has been giving away the biggest prize of the year at the end of December: “El Gordo” or “The Fat One”. It has become a huge social event that usually takes place on December 22. People buy dozens of raffle tickets hoping to become one of the lucky winners. The winning numbers are usually announced by a chorus of twenty-two schoolchildren and basically the whole country comes to a standstill for a moment, fingers crossed for the Christmas present of their lives.

3. Christmas firewood

If you’re not a big fan of Christmas trees, you may prefer pieces of Christmas firewood. In large parts of Spain, Christmas presents are brought by Tió de Nadal, a piece of firewood that is decorated with a face and small legs. Tió de Nadal does not only bring the presents, but also gets to eat in the evening and can relax under his own blanket. Cute, isn’t it? But the cuteness also has its limits: on Christmas Eve, the piece of firewood is thrown into the fireplace. Relatives poke it with a stick until it, uhm, poops out the presents and candies. Now is probably a good time to mention that Tió de Nadal has a nickname: Caga Tió, or sh*t firewood.

4. Brooms and mops

In Norway, you have to hide your brooms and mops during Christmas. Not because people don’t feel like cleaning, but because Norwegians are a bit superstitious. They want to prevent the evil spirits, who return to Earth on Christmas Eve, from stealing a broom or mop to go joyride on.

5. Christmas Spiders

Believe it or not, there really is such a thing as the Christmas spider. In Ukraine, Christmas trees are decorated with cobwebs. Don’t be alarmed: they are Christmas balls that resemble cobwebs and are said to bring good luck. The myth goes all the way back to a poor woman who had no money to buy baubles to decorate her tree with. When she awoke the next morning, her tree was adorned with the most beautiful cobwebs glistening in the sun. In other countries, such as Poland and Germany, a spider or cobweb in the Christmas tree is a sign of good luck.

6. Santa’s mailbox

Everyone has written a letter to Santa at some point. But did you know that he actually has a mailing address? His letterbox is in Canada and if you write him a letter before December 16, you will get one back. In more than thirty possible languages, including Braille. Send your letter to Santa Claus, North Pole H0H 0H0, Canada. It’s free and you don’t need a stamp, because Santa Claus is awesome. Just like the zip code of the North Pole, by the way.

7. The Christmas Pickle

Pickles should be your favorite Christmas decorations because they give you an extra gift. In many countries, people hide a bauble in the shape of a pickle in their Christmas tree. Whoever finds it will receive an extra gift or just good luck. It is unknown where this tradition comes from. But we think we can live with that, as long as we get that extra gift.

8. Stars to help you on your way

In some parts of the world, such as Ukraine and Poland, the time to start opening the presents is written in the stars. The youngest child has to keep a close eye on the sky and wait for the first star to appear: that’s when the first gift can be opened (and if it’s cloudy, someone just decides when it’s time).

9. Christmas Pudding

Pudding, in all possible flavors and shapes, is a popular Christmas dessert. In Slovakia and parts of Ukraine, pudding can also predict the future. The oldest man in the family throws a tablespoon of loksa pudding against the ceiling. The more the pudding sticks, the luckier you will get. It’s that simple.

10. Donald Duck

An important tradition in Sweden is the Christmas “Donald Duck Special”. This one-hour TV program airs on December 24 at 3 p.m. All other celebrations are planned around it so that families can watch the program together.

11. Christmas Monsters

For all the festivities and fun, Christmas is also the time for monsters who urge children to be nice and behave for at least one month of the year. One of the most surprising members of this “Christmas Police” is Jólakötturinn, the Icelandic Christmas cat. That sounds cute, but like a certain piece of firewood, it is not what it seems: Jólakötturinn eats the children who have not behaved and who therefore have not had new clothes for Christmas. Meowry Christmas!

12. Skating

The award for Coolest Christmas Mode of Transport goes to Caracas, the capital of Venezuela. There people don’t go to Christmas Mass on foot (Christmas?), but on skates. In parts of the city, the streets are even closed off so that everyone can skate safely to church.