Christmas time is here again. This is a time for celebrations, families and friends get together and have a great time.Houses are decorated with Christmas trees, nativities and poinsettias, towns and cities are decorated with beautiful lights that every year get bigger and better, and shops displays all their best goods because this is also a time for gift-giving.
At least this is the common notion of Christmas for most of us. But each country has different customs and traditions, some of them a bit strange and bizarre. Here are some examples:
Venezuela - In Caracas, residents have developed the tradition of travelling to Mass on roller skates. The streets are closed off in the early morning between December 16 and December 24, no cars or buses, just skaters on their way to church.
Portugal - Portugueses celebrate a feast called "consoda". The consoda is held in the early morning hours of Christmas Day, where they set extra spaces and food at the table in honour of the soul of their late loved ones. It's believed that this tradition brings good luck for the new year.
Estonia - On Christmas Eve, Estonian families traditionally go to the sauna together.
Norway - The hiding of all brooms on Christmas Eve night is a very old Norwegian tradition. In the old days people believed witches and evil spirits come out on this night looking for brooms to ride on, so they hid them in the safest places possible. Today, Norwegian women still hide their brooms, mops and brushes before going to sleep, while the men sometimes sneak out of the house and fire a shotgun to scare off the witches.
Japan- In many Japanese homes a KFC bucket with fried chicken is the main dish at Christmas.Fried chicken is so popular that they have to order weeks in advance.
KFC has its highest annual sales in Japan on Christmas Eve,
United Kingdom - In the UK, and in many former British colonies, the 26th December is a national holiday known as Boxing Day. This is because it was traditionally the day when the servants and tradespeople who had worked through Christmas Day would get a day off and be given a ‘Christmas box’ containing gifts, bonuses and, perhaps, leftover food.
Mince pies are a traditional Christmas treat in the UK. They are made from pastry filled with ‘mincemeat’ - but the ‘mincemeat’ is very different from the mincemeat you would get from a butcher. ‘Mincemeat’ is a mix of chopped, dried fruits, spices and spirits. Many years ago, the mixture used to contain meat - hence the name.
Austria - In Austria, December is time for festive events and frights. Young men walk around dressed up as the Krampus, a devil demon equipped with cowbells and rods, scaring adults and children