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Christmas trip around the world

Posted by Valerie Vanbiervliet on

Everyone around the world is getting into the X-mas spirit, because Christmas is the feast of all feasts, celebrated everywhere. Although not everywhere in the same way... Curious about what Christmas traditions the rest of the world has? Ravi takes you on a Christmas trip around the world!

10 most striking Christmas traditions worldwide

From dessert overkill to pudding throwing, we selected the 10 most striking Christmas traditions worldwide: ho-ho-ho!

1. Food coma in France

Our first stop is France, where the traditions are not too different from ours yet, although there they take the concept of food coma quite literally... In addition to an extensive Christmas menu, which we too conjure up every year, for dessert they go all out with no less than 13 desserts. And there is no escaping it, because they are all put on the table together and the guests have to eat all of them. The number 13 is linked to Jesus and the 12 apostles, so you can't skip any of them. Desserts must also contain certain ingredients such as figs, almonds, walnuts and raisins, in reference to the 4 monastic orders of the monks, along with candied fruits, cakes and sweets, sweet bread, nougat and tangerine. To the table!

2. Fast food as Christmas dish in Japan

No fancy Christmas dinners in Japan, there they stick to...fried chicken from KFC. The tradition originated in the 1970s, when Takeshi Okawara, the manager of the first KFC branch in Japan, launched Kurisumasu ni wa Kentakki, or Kentucky for Christmas. This in the absence of other Christmas traditions, since Japan is not really Christian. As a result, the Japanese were instantly blazed with enthusiasm and today they reserve a table weeks in advance or stand in line for hours to score a bucket of fried chicken.

3. Horse head on a stick in Wales

In Wales, they celebrate according to Mari Lwyd tradition where one lucky (or not so lucky) person in each village gets to dress up as a horse. This with a white sheet and a horse's head on a stick. Then to go out into the streets with a small group and ring bells everywhere. Where "the horse" is treated to something sweet, according to tradition, there they will be lucky for the coming year. So better be prepared when the horse is at the door!

4. Puddle throwing in Slovakia

In Slovakia, things get messy at dessert. For example, according to tradition, loksa pudding is eaten. That in itself is not so strange, but the custom involved is that the oldest man in the family throws a tablespoon of pudding against the ceiling. The longer the pudding sticks, the luckier the family will be. So think three times when proposing to host the Christmas party so....

5. Single & ready to mingle in the Czech Republic

All the single ladies can go to the Czech Republic for Christmas with peace of mind. Instead of being bombarded with questions like "Haven't you found a boyfriend yet?" or "Aren't you too picky?", on Christmas Eve the single women can throw a shoe, with high heels, over their shoulder towards the front door. If the tip of the shoe points toward the door, you marry within the year. Who needs a dating app?

6. Dinner with ghosts in Portugal

Slightly spooky, but also beautiful: in Portugal, they put a few extra plates on the table on Christmas Day because they believe the spirits of deceased family members will visit that night. Therefore, leftovers from Christmas dinner are also left on the table and crumbs are thrown into the fireplace to honor the departed.

7. No Santa Claus, but a tree trunk in Catalonia

In Catalonia, starting Dec. 8, children are given custody of a tree trunk named Tio de Nadal. It is decorated with a face and paws, and in the weeks before Christmas, the children have to take care of it with food and a blanket against the cold. At night, the parents switch the trunk with a larger one so it looks to the children as if it is growing. Christmas Eve forms the highlight, when the children get to tap their tree trunk with a stick and ask it to do poop. The, um, result they find under the blanket, in the form of small gifts and candy. Then the Tio is thrown into the fireplace, according to ancient Catalan mythology, with the fire giving them two priceless gifts: light and warmth.

8. Donald Duck hour in Sweden

In Sweden, it is best to sit in front of the television at 3 p.m. on December 24 to watch the Donald Duck Christmas special. This one-hour program featuring old Disney cartoons has become a regular Christmas tradition that Swedes faithfully follow. The streets and stores are virtually empty during that hour and it is also literally known as the "Donald Duck hour".

9. Cleaning on Christmas prohibited in Norway

In Norway, on Christmas Eve, all brushes and mops are hidden and no cleaning is done... This is because they believe that on that night, witches and evil spirits rise from their graves and start wandering around, and they want to prevent them from using brushes and broomsticks to go flying around. Creepy much?

10. Underpants stress in South America

Whereas we stress about our Christmas outfits weeks in advance, in South America the stress is limited to the color of their underpants... These are said to have a major impact on what life will look like for the wearer in the coming year. For example, yellow underpants indicate wealth and prosperity, while red ones bring love and white ones bring calm and peace. Which one will you choose?

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