1. Tree Pickle (Germany)
This odd Christmas tree tradition embraced around the world today is first believed to have originated in Germany back in the 16th Century. One of Germany’s most popular traditions is of course, to hide a pickle somewhere within the branches of the family Christmas tree, and give a gift to whoever within in the household finds it first.
One legend reportedly says that the Christmas pickle originated in Spain when two young boys were held as prisoners inside a pickle barrel. Saint Nicholas rescued the boys and brought them back to life. The tale is said to be so popular that many countries took on the tradition, although became most recognised in Germany. If an extra gift at Christmas time sounds good to you, this tradition might be something you might want to embrace.
2. Poop Log (Spain)
Tió de Nadal, the Christmas log is easily one of the strangest Christmas traditions on the list. Tió de Nadal is made from a hollow log, with stick legs, a smile, and a red hat. Pretty cute, right? Every night between December 8th and Christmas Eve, children in the family will feed the log small treats with water, and leave it under a blanket to keep warm.
On Christmas Eve, things start to get a little interesting and the children are begin beating the log with sticks while singing traditional songs which include lyrics like “Poop log, Poop nougats, Hazelnuts and mato cheese, If you don’t poop well, I’ll hit you with a stick, Poop log!”. After Tió de Nadal is properly beaten and serenaded, the log magically poops out presents and sweets for the whole family to enjoy.
3. Yule Goat (Sweden)
Here we have a very unusual Christmas tradition based in Sweden- The Yule Goat. The Yle Goat dates back to at least the 11th century where there are mentions of a man-sized goat figure, led by Saint Nicholas, who had the power to control the devil.
The Yule Goat’s popularity has altered it’s story throughout history. In the 17th century, it was popular for young men to dress as the goat creature and run around pulling pranks and demanding gifts by others. However, by the 19th century, the yule goat became a positive figure and was considered a giver of gifts, who stood in the place of Father Christmas. Instead, Swedish men in the family would dress up as the yule goat and give gifts to the entire family.
Although, The Yule Goat these days has taken modern twist and is seen as a traditional Christmas ornament on trees throughout Sweden. In the larger cities, you might even find giant versions of the goat ornaments created out of straw and red ribbons. Yearly, Sweden creates a giant Yule Goat statue made out of straw and is then set on fire around Christmas Day. Setting fire to the goat is seen as a celebration if done successfully by members of the public, and was last successfully set to light in 2016.
4. Krampus (Austria)
Most of us are well acquainted with Father Christmas, Santa Claus or Saint Nick, but what about Krampus? Austria, among others celebrated another type of figure during the holiday season called Krampus – a ghoulish creature that is most known as the evil accomplice of St Nicholas, and is said to wander the streets in search of badly-behaved children. During the month of December many festive individuals will put on terrifying masks and turn themselves into frightening figures and set out and about scaring kids and adults alike with ghastly pranks.
The tradition is so well-loved that Vienna hosts an annual Krampus Parade each year to keep festivities alive.
5. Broom Hiding (Norway)
If Krampus isn’t up your alley, perhaps one of the most unorthodox Christmas Eve traditions can be found in Norway, where people hide their brooms. The broom-hiding tradition is known to date back centuries ago to when people believed that witches and evil spirits came out on Christmas Eve and looked for brooms to ride on. To this day, many people throughout Norway still hide their brooms in the safest place they can possibly find in their homes just in case a witch is looking for one to steal.
6. Roller Skates (Venezuela)
Every Christmas Eve, Venezuela citizens head to church in the early morning and for reasons known only to them, they do so while on roller skates. The unique tradition (and form of transport!) is so popular in fact that roads across the city are closed to cars so that people can safely skate to church. In addition parents put children to bed earlier than usual on the previous night, so that they will have enough strength to get up early and ply the streets on roller-skates the next morning.
After their Christmas morning mass, families then head home for a traditional Venezuelan Christmas dinner of tamales, which is a wrap made out of cornmeal dough and stuffed with meat, and then steamed.