Eccentric Christmas Traditions From Around the Globe

People celebrate Christmas differently all across the world.

People celebrate Christmas differently all across the world.

Brenna Renfroe, Staff Writer

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All across the globe, Christmas is celebrated in many different ways. From the Krampus to trees covered with spiderwebs, these strange Christmas traditions show that everyone celebrates the holiday season in their own unique way.

Here in the United States, some people have unusual Christmas traditions. For more than sixty years, the residents of Chandler, Arizona, have built a towering Christmas tree made entirely of tumbleweeds. The Elfapalooza in Mobile, Alabama, strives to break the Guinness World Record for most Santa Elves in one location. During this event, people dress as elves and parade down the streets of downtown Mobile each year.

Germany and Austria practice a rather haunting Christmas tradition: the Krampus. The Krampus is a devilish creature with hooves and large, jagged horns. Children who are naughty don’t just get mere coal. The Krampus goes from house to house on Christmas night, punishing the naughty children. He will chase them down with a whip and then stick them deep in his bottomless sack. According to legend, the children are then never to be seen again.

There is even such thing as Krampusnacht, or Krampus Night. According to AJ Willingham, a writer for CNN, “A guy dressed as Krampus will roam the streets terrifying children and reminding them that with the sweetness and light of Christmas comes an equal and opposite force of darkness and evil…”

Catalonia, a region of Spain, has a tradition centered around the caga tió. During the two weeks before Christmas, a hollow log is crafted into a smiling little creature that is then placed on the table in the dining room. Fruits, nuts, and sweets must be fed to the little log every day. On Christmas Eve, the log creature is destroyed with sticks, and the treats inside are then eaten.

In the capital of Venezuela, church-goers travel to church on roller skates all throughout the holidays. In Japan, Santa Kurohsu is said to literally have eyes in the back of his head so he can watch for naughty little children.

In Norway, everyone eats risgøt, or rice pudding slathered in sugar, cinnamon, and butter. Hidden in the pudding is a secret treasure: an almond. Whoever finds the almond wins a marzipan pig. Marzipan is a confection made primarily from sugar, honey, and ground almonds. It is then molded into the shape of a little pig.

All across Scandinavia, one can find tons of huge straw goats. This “Yule Goat” is based off a Norse legend where Thor, the god of Thunder, flew through the sky in a wagon pulled by goats.

Traditional Christmas trees in Ukraine are not decorated with sparkling lights and ornaments, but with spiderwebs. This custom is said to bring good luck because of the Ukrainian tale it is based off of. In the story, a poor woman was unable to decorate her Christmas tree because she couldn’t afford to. When she woke up on Christmas morning, her tree was covered in a glittering web thanks to a little spider. The lady was ecstatic and forever grateful for the kind little spider who provided her with some much needed Christmas cheer.

So, just when you think that your family Christmas gathering couldn’t get any weirder when grandma comes dressed up as Rudolph singing “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer” at the top of her lungs, remember that it can indeed get much stranger. She could have came dressed as Krampus bearing chains and a dark sack.