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Alternative Christmas Traditions Around the World

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Read time - 2 minutes

Christmas is a time for traditions, for enjoying the annual rituals and routines that have come to symbolise the season. Around the world, traditions vary enormously as different countries have their own ways to come together and celebrate the festive season. 

Christmas in Sweden

Yule Goat

Some nations put up a Christmas tree, some decorations, but the town of Gavle in Sweden creates a 40ft tall goat made out of straw. And every year, without fail, someone tries to burn it down.

Yule Goat

The Yule Goat tradition has been going strong for over 50 years. But each festive season, like a red rag to a bull, people will try to set the sculpture on fire.

It’s become as much of a tradition as the goat itself, with ludicrous heist style plans to remove it – including one attempt in 2010 which involved a helicopter to kidnap the goat. The goat has survived the last three consecutive years; can it make it four in a row?

Book a winter holiday to Sweden to see the Yule Goat for yourself.

Image: By Christian Gidlöf - Photo taken by Christian Gidlöf, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=575791  

Christmas in Japan

Kentucky Fried Christmas

KFC Santa in Japan

Not many people have ovens in their kitchens in Japan; the cuisine doesn’t call for it and space is at a premium. So when Christmas comes round and the traditional roast turkey is hard to come by, locals tried to come up with the closest approximation for their expat friends… which turned out to be a bucket of KFC chicken.

What began as a sweet and respectful attempt to replicate overseas traditions, unexpectedly became become a major phenomenon. Now you’ll see the streets of Japan lined with people waiting to collect their pre-ordered KFC.

The fast-food chain quickly latched onto the potential, rolling out a nationwide marketing campaign in the 1970s and even though less than 2% of Japan is Christian, it’s now a huge phenomenon. KFC even offer a “premium” whole roasted chicken that will set you back a whopping 5800 yen – that’s £40!

Image credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/rumpleteaser/4137712229 

If you want to experience the Christmas culture find out more about our holidays to Japan.

Christmas in Catalunya

El Caganer

Catalan Christmas Nativity Scene

Nobody’s really sure where El Caganer comes from, but he’s a staple of the Catalan Christmas nativity scene. The name translates directly as ‘the crapper’ and this small figurine appears in nativity scenes as a lovingly sculpted and painted figurine of a peasant defecating in the corner of the otherwise recognisable scene!

Although many of us would consider this as disrespectful, the figure of El Caganer is an incredibly popular and longstanding custom in Catalunya dating back centuries and is a firm held tradition to this day.

Take a look at our holidays to Spain or why not book a trip to Catalunya and see the El Caganer for yourself?

Christmas in Venezuela

Mass Roller Skating, Caracas

Caracas Cathedral

In Venezuela there are many Christmas traditions, from nativity scenes to special Christmas foods, but our favourite is the citizens of Caracas who have taken it upon themselves to make roller skating to church a seasonal tradition.

Services are well attended here, with Midnight Mass being a favourite, but those hoping to attend the early morning service on time have to literally get their skates on – it’s so popular authorities even close the roads in the early hours to create pedestrianised routes for the skaters.

Find out more about our winter cultural holidays below. 

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