While you are reveling in earth’s joy during Christmas, we decided to bring you some of the weirdest Christmas traditions from the far-flung corners of the globe. So, start taking your fill of the world’s New-Year bombshells of all time.
Norway: Cleaning is Forbidden!
In Norway, it is believed that witches and evil spirits will jump out of a cake to ruin Christmas. Since witches mainly use brooms to soar up in the sky, Norwegians hide all their brooms lest witches invade and encroach on their homes. If you think this tradition is heart-soothing for those who hate cleaning, you are totally mistaken. Conversely, Norwegians need to do their Christmas cleaning long before Christmas Eve, so there is a lot of pressure to beat the holiday blues. Moreover, because most houses in Norway are quite big, this may be an arduous task!
Austria: Krampus and Perchta
Krampus: Apart from the jolly Santa who taps his tummy with his face going ho ho hooo, Austria invented Krampusa -a half-demon, half-goat Santa, who is often portrayed with heavy chains. Krampus accompanies his counterpart, Saint Nick, to visit people’s houses. If you’ve been good that year, you get presents from Santa. If you’ve been wicked that year, Krampus kidnaps you and burns you down to ashes. Perchta: If you think Krampus is the cruelest Santa version ever, it is time to have second thoughts about it. Krampus has not produced one iota of Perchta’s cruelty: Perchta is a female Santa who shows up just before Saint Nick and his evil companion to torture evil children before they are burnt once and for all by Krampus. Nicknamed as “the belly-slitter”, Perchta’s job is to crack open your tiny belly if you have been mischievous.
This goes without saying that such a tradition was not all fun. Bit mean telling your kids that the devil will burn them alive to do their homework, isn’t it?
Italy: La Befana
La Befana is an Italian santa who visits homes on the 6th of January (Epiphany). She is depicted as a weary woman all-covered in soot. Although La Befana is contrasting oddly with Saint Nick, you could still see little resemblance between the two: As kind as it may seem, La Befana loves to eke out a smile on mothers’ faces on Christmas Eve by cleaning their houses for them and wearing out their daily hurdles and sadness. Echoing Santa, La Befana brings presents in socks for good children. However, naughty ones receive coal, ruined candy, and sticks. A popular belief is that her name derives from the Feast of Epiphany (Italian: Festa dell’Epifania). Epifania is a Latin word with Greek origins meaning manifestation (of the divinity). According to legend, the Wise Men asked La Befana to accompany them to see the infant Jesus. She refused, saying she was too busy. To make up for missing the astounding sight of Jesus’ birth, La Belfana goes from house to house each year, leaving gifts and looking for the Christ child. Nowadays, La Befana is celebrated throughout all of Italy, and has become a national icon.
Ukraine: All I Need is a Bunch of Spiders!
Surprisingly enough, finding a spider in your Christmas tree is a beacon of hope and a sign of good luck. Accordingly, Ukrainian people always love to decorate their Christmas trees with such nasty bugs. Origins of this creepy tradition goes back to the Legend of the Christmas Spider- an Eastern European folktale. The legend tells the story of an impoverished widow who once lived in a small hut with her children. One summer day, a pine cone fell on the earthen floor of the hut. The widow was jazzed to finally have a Christmas tree in winter. The palm tree grew, yet when Christmas Eve came, the widow could not afford to decorate it. The children sadly went to bed and fell asleep. Early the next morning, they woke up and saw the tree covered with cobwebs. When they opened the windows, the first rays of sunlight touched the webs and turned them into gold and silver. The widow and her children were overjoyed. From then on, they never lived in poverty again. The origins of the folk tale are unknown, but it is believed to have come from either Germany or Ukraine. Ukrainians also create small Christmas tree ornaments in the shape of a spider (known as pavuchky, literally “little spiders”), usually made of paper and wire.
Japan: Merry KFC Christmas
Having some KFC is everybody’s no-brainer; however, in Japan’s Christmas Eves, KFC takes precedence over turkeys and hams! In Japan people scramble for KFC and even wait for long queues in order not to let Christmas pass without letting their children savor KFC. This is only because of a shrewd marketing scheme that KFC hatched. Over the former four decades, KFC has managed to make its fried chicken coincide with Christmas in the country. According to KFC Japan spokeswoman Motoichi Nakatani, it started thanks to Takeshi Okawara, the manager of the first KFC in the country. One day, Okawara overheard a couple of foreigners in his store talking about how they missed having turkey for Christmas. Consequently, Okawara started jotting down the idea of making KFC’s fried chicken a satisfactory alternative. In 1974, KFC took the marketing plan national, calling it Kurisumasu ni wa Kentakkii, or Kentucky for Christmas. Okawara set in motion a process of nationalizing his product and as a result, worked his way up to being a president and CEO of Kentucky Fried Chicken Japan from 1984 to 2002.