Traditional UK Christmas decoration
Bauble hanging from the Christmas tree

Christmas traditions from around the world

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With Christmas fast approaching – albeit a slightly different one this year – we thought we’d run through some weird and wonderful seasonal traditions from around the world, to help you get in the festive mood!

We all have our own traditions when it comes to Christmas: perhaps you like smoked salmon for breakfast, or play Monopoly after lunch, or maybe you wait until after lunch to open your presents. These traditions, however, are a little more unusual…

READ MORE: Staff Stories: An enchanting day trip to Santa’s Lapland 

 

Deep-fried caterpillars

In South Africa, deep-fried emperor moth caterpillars are considered something of a delicacy, and are served as a starter on Christmas Day. Although we’ve not actually tried them – we promise – they are surprisingly nutritious and are said to taste similar to tea! 

READ MORE: Classic South Africa 

A plate of deep-fried caterpillars
A plate of deep-fried caterpillars

 

Banana and mango Christmas trees

Around 2% of India’s total population identify as Christians. Although this isn’t a large percentage, when you consider India’s massive population of around 1.2 billion, the Christmas-celebrating Christian population suddenly becomes more significant. The coastal state of Goa has a large Christian population, who decorate banana and mango trees in festive finery when Christmas comes around, given that fir and pine trees are few and far between in India!

READ MORE: India – Tigers & the Taj Mahal

Christmas tree in Goa
A Goan Christmas tree

 

Night of the Radishes

We’ve all seen a nativity scene or two, but in Oaxaca, Mexico, they do nativity with a difference. Each year, on December 23, residents come together to make nativity scenes from radishes. This tradition, which is called Noche de los Rábanos (Night of the Radishes), dates back to the 18th century, when the Spanish introduced radishes to Mexico from their native China.

One year, a few radishes were missed during the harvest. When they were eventually discovered, they had grown large and misshapen. The radishes were sold at a local Christmas market on December 23, and carved into novelty shapes and figures for a nativity scene. In 1897, the mayor of Oaxaca created a competition to make the best radish nativity scene, which is still going strong today! 

READ MORE: Classic Mexico – Mayan & Aztec Wonders

Oaxaca at Christmas
Oaxaca at Christmas

 

KFC for Christmas

In 1974, KFC ran a marketing campaign in Japan called ‘Kentucky for Christmas’. The campaign worked so well that eating KFC at Christmas is now a Japanese tradition. KFC’s sales in Japan increase by up to 500% during December and it’s not unusual to see people queuing out of the door on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, with employees dressed as Santa!

READ MORE: Escorted tours to Japan

A KFC at Christmas in Tokyo
A KFC at Christmas in Tokyo

 

Spiders and cobwebs on the Christmas tree

In Ukraine, Christmas trees are rather uniquely decorated with artificial spiders and cobwebs. This tradition has its roots local folklore, and a woman who could not afford to decorate her Christmas tree. According to the story, when her children woke up on Christmas morning, they came downstairs to discover the tree covered in webs and spiders. When the sun came up and the light hit the tree, the webs turned to gold and silver and the family were rich beyond their wildest dreams! Therefore, it is believed that artificial cobwebs and spiders bring good luck around Christmas in Ukraine.

READ MORE: Lapland day trips

Cobweb and spider Christmas decoration
Cobweb and spider Christmas decoration

 

Still not feeling festive? Take the Christmas edition of our quiz!

READ MORE: Why you should travel on an escorted tour 

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