Unique Christmas Traditions Around the World


Ali Richardson, Reporter

In America, when thinking about Christmas, the traditions that typically come to mind are decorating the house with lights, filling the tree with ornaments, baking Christmas cookies, sledding in the snow, and so much more. Christmas means many different, unique traditions and activities to many places around the world.
One of these unique traditions takes place in Austria, where they believe in a “bad santa” as opposed to the normal Santa Claus. This bad santa, called Krampus, targets poorly behaved children. Krampus was first created to try to frighten children into behaving properly. Throughout the holiday season, adults can be found disguised as Krampus aiming to scare the children from acting out.
Another one of these peculiar traditions is Santa on roller skates. Every year on Christmas morning, inhabitants of Caracas, Venezuela can be found rolling down the main street on their skates dressed in their finest Santa attire. This tradition has become so popular over the years that the main street closes Christmas morning at 8am, so the skaters can travel safely to their destinations.
Usually, reindeer are the most common animal associated with Christmas. But in Sweden rather than using a reindeer, they use the Yule Goat to signify the Christmas season. The Yule Goat can be found expressed as floats in Sweden’s parades or small ornaments in trees. This tradition dates back to as early as the 11th century, but it has changed significantly over the years. It began with people dressing as the Yule Goat and pulling pranks on each other, then the goat became the giver of gifts, and now a huge straw goat is made annually, and it can be livestreamed from all over Sweden.
Along with Austria, Italy has a different figure who replaces Santa Claus called the Christmas Witch. Though she may sound frightening, the Christmas Witch doesn’t share the same sinister purpose as Krampus from Austria. Instead she is very similar to Santa Claus, and she is the bringer of gifts for the children of Italy.
In Australia, the typical snowy Christmas traditions are not possible with Christmas falling in the summer. To make up for this, Australia celebrates Christmas with alternative Christmas traditions such as hanging out on the beach, the arrival of Santa on his surfboard, and a barbecue dinner following these summer activities.
Although Christmas isn’t a national holiday in Japan, they celebrate Christmas Eve with a meal from Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC). In 1974, KFC released a marketing campaign surrounding Christmas in order to increase their business around the holiday season. The campaign was successful, and the KFC dinner on Christmas Eve has stuck as a Christmas Eve ritual in Japan.
Overall, Christmas has a different meaning to many places over the world. Even though some of these traditions may seem unusual or unique, they have become normal parts of these places during Christmas.