8 peculiar Christmas traditions from around the world

One of the most popular celebrations in the world comes with a lot of variety. Find out why some people decorate their Christmas tree with a pickle, who or what brings presents in Spain, and what a chichilaki is…

Pickle tree decoration, Germany

The child that finds the hanging pickle as first receives a present — Shutterstock 8 peculiar Christmas traditions from around the world
The child that finds the hanging pickle as first receives a present — Shutterstock
 

There are numerous stories describing the origin of the pickle ornament. Some say it dates back to 16th-century Germany while others say it originated in Spain with two boys being rescued from imprisonment in a pickle barrel by St. Nicholas.

Either way, this tradition has reached the US where many families hang up this unusual Christmas tree ornament. It’s popular among families with more children: the child that finds the hanging pickle as first receives a present.

Kentucky for Christmas, Japan

3.6 million Japanese families pay a visit to the American fast-food chain every Christmas — image_vulture / Shutterstock 8 peculiar Christmas traditions from around the world
3.6 million Japanese families pay a visit to the American fast-food chain every Christmas — image_vulture / Shutterstock
 

Fried chicken for a Christmas dinner? Everything is possible in Japan. The tradition started back in 1974 with KFC’s marketing campaign “Kentucky for Christmas!”. Even though Christmas is not even a national holiday in Japan, many people have turned it into their family tradition since then. In fact, an estimated 3.6 million Japanese families pay a visit to the American fast-food chain every Christmas.

Eggnog, England

The history of eggnog goes all the way to medieval Britain — Shutterstock 8 peculiar Christmas traditions from around the world
The history of eggnog goes all the way to medieval Britain — Shutterstock
 

Many Christmas traditions involve food and drink. One such traditional drink is eggnog which is typically made from egg yolks, milk, rum or whiskey, and spices.

The history of eggnog goes all the way to medieval Britain. It is believed the drink originated from another drink called a posset which was a mix of hot curdled milk, ale or wine, and spices.

Later on, warm eggnog has become synonymous with Christmas after it had spread across American colonies in the 18th century.

Defecating log, Catalonia

On Christmas Eve, the log is placed in the fireplace and family members take turns beating it with a stick — Shutterstock 8 peculiar Christmas traditions from around the world
On Christmas Eve, the log is placed in the fireplace and family members take turns beating it with a stick — Shutterstock
 

Tío de Nadal or a Christmas log is a popular tradition in Spain’s region of Catalonia. The hollow log with a face painted on it brings small presents, not dissimilarly to a Christmas stocking. But there’s a twist.

On 8 December — the Day of the Immaculate Conception — families begin to feed the log and they also cover it with a blanket to keep it cozy during the winter nights. On Christmas Eve, the log is placed in the fireplace and family members take turns beating it with a stick. 

The log is supposed to defecate presents and candies and that’s also the reason why it is sometimes called Caga tió, or sh*t log.

Chichilaki — an alternative to a Christmas tree, Georgia

The finishing touches are often made with red berries, dried fruits, or Georgian candy churchkhela — Shutterstock 8 peculiar Christmas traditions from around the world
The finishing touches are often made with red berries, dried fruits, or Georgian candy churchkhela — Shutterstock
 

While a coniferous tree is usually the go-to Christmas decor in many celebrating households around the world, the Georgians have taken a liking for an alternative approach. 

They display chichilaki, which is a variant of a Christmas tree made from hazelnut or walnut tree branches and shaved to make a small coniferous-like tree. The finishing touches are often made with red berries, dried fruits, or Georgian candy churchkhela.

Christmas rollerblading, Venezuela

It even became so popular that the city closes off streets till 8 in the morning so families can skate together safely — Shutterstock 8 peculiar Christmas traditions from around the world
It even became so popular that the city closes off streets till 8 in the morning so families can skate together safely — Shutterstock
 

The locals in the Venezuelan capital of Caracas have turned their tradition of going to Christmas mass into a fun event. Every year they strap on skates and glide to mass. It even became so popular that the city closes off streets till 8 in the morning so families can skate together safely.

After the mass families get together in the streets and each other’s houses, share food, play music and dance.

12 pubs of Christmas, Ireland

After a couple of bars, sticking to the rules might become quite difficult — Paul Behan / Shutterstock 8 peculiar Christmas traditions from around the world
After a couple of bars, sticking to the rules might become quite difficult — Paul Behan / Shutterstock
 

The popularity of this relatively new Irish tradition has been on the rise. Even though it’s more or less a pub crawl that takes place over the Christmas week, there are a number of rules to keep in mind.

Attendees dress themselves up in their best Christmas clothes but the more outrageous the better. This includes (ugly) sweaters and other Christmas gear, such as bells or lights. In each of the bars, at least one drink must be consumed, usually, a pint. 

Each bar also has its own special rule but groups usually make their own ones, such as no swearing, talking in a foreign accent, or drinking only with your left hand. After a couple of bars, sticking to the rules might become quite difficult.

Christmas peace, Finland

Declaration of Christmas Peace is read out to mark the start of Christmas celebrations and peace lasting for 20 days — Shutterstock 8 peculiar Christmas traditions from around the world
Declaration of Christmas Peace is read out to mark the start of Christmas celebrations and peace lasting for 20 days — Shutterstock
 

Even nowadays, the former capital of Finland — Turku — holds a ceremony that dates back all the way to the 13th century. Every year at noon on the day of Christmas Eve, the Declaration of Christmas Peace is read out to mark the start of Christmas celebrations and peace lasting for 20 days.

Since 1886, the declaration has been read out on the balcony of the Brinkkala, but it’s broadcast via radio and national TV as well. The current script dates back to 1903 and wishes everyone a Merry Christmas spent without noisy and rowdy behavior.