[size=7][color=DarkOrange]I[/color]n Canada many celebrate Christmas by going to mass, decorating a tree, having a family feast and giving gifts, but that’s just us. Other countries don’t necessarily celebrate the way we do here, and in some cases they’re completely different. Here are 10 places and some of their practices that you probably haven’t heard of.
Here, it is believed that St. Nicholas has an evil twin, named Krampus whose purpose it is to punish children who have been naughty. So, much like Halloween being followed by All Saints Day, Austrians celebrate Krampus Night on Dec. 5, the eve of St. Nicholas Day. People dress up in demon-like costumes and march through town, often in parades.
Much of the religious imagery of Christianity is prevalent at Christmas time, though only one percent of the Japanese population is Christian. Instead fried chicken has become a staple of the Christmas feast in Japan, and is often accompanied by Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. On New Years’ Day, the Japanese clean their houses and drive out evil spirits in hopes of bringing in good luck.
Again, a Halloween-y theme comes up, but this time in more than one way. On Christmas Eve, it is customary to hide the brooms in the house, because tradition dictates that witches come out on that night and try to fly around. Also, once Christmas is over, children in Norway celebrate Julebukk by dressing up in costumes, and going door-to-door, much like trick-or-treating.
On Christmas Eve, a bonfire is made with thorn bushes. Tradition says that if the fire burns the bushes to ashes, then the next year will be full of good luck. However, whether it produces ashes or not, everyone attempts to bring more good luck by taking a turn at jumping over the remnants of the bonfire three times and making a wish — done after the fire is out.
Now here’s a country that knows how to get in from the cold. On Christmas Eve, Finnish people go to the sauna. Later in the evening, a sort of Polkadot Door-esque event occurs. The father goes to do chores, and Joulupukki (Santa Claus) comes to the door to bring presents to the children. He doesn’t have far to travel though, since Finns believe he lives in their country.
Gift-giving does not occur on Christmas Day, but rather on three consecutive Sundays preceding it. The gifts are given as a sort of ransom, as the first Sunday, children are tied to chairs or each other and untied only when they “pay the ransom”, or give gifts. The same practice is done with the mother the next Sunday, and then finally with the father on the third Sunday.
[attach]3188[/attach]Presents are not given by Santa, and they aren’t found under the tree. Instead, children leave hay and water for a camel. And he’s no ordinary camel either he’s the youngest of the ones that brought the three wise men to Bethlehem. When morning comes, presents are found where the hay and water used to be.
[attach]3189[/attach]In a strange twist, it is a commonly demonized character, La Befana, a witch, who is associated with Christmas. She is believed to have been busy when Jesus was born, and missed the birth. Tradition holds that she is still looking for him and flies around on her broomstick, leaving presents at every house in case the baby Jesus is there. This does not occur until the Epiphany, which takes place on Jan. 6.
The streets in the capital city of Caracas are closed to vehicles until 8 a.m. Christmas morning. Not as a means of keeping families at home and together, but because it is customary to roller skate to church. Children also go to bed the night before with string tied to their toes with the other end dangling out the window. This way, the roller skaters can tug the string and wake the children.
For those unaccustomed to different cuisine preferences, this might not sound so appetizing, but in Greenland it’s tradition. The customary dish is Kiviak, raw auk (a seabird) flesh wrapped in sealskin that has been buried for months. Mattak, which is whale skin with some blubber, is usually given as a gift. While it apparently tastes like coconut it’s tough to chew and is often swallowed whole.