With the Christmas countdown well and truly underway, many of our thoughts in the UK will be turning to mince pies, Christmas carols, roast turkey and Brussel sprouts.
Every country celebrates the festive season differently and some of the most unusual traditions worldwide include:
KFC Christmas in Japan
If you think sushi may be on the menu in Japan over Christmas, think again.
After a cutting-edge marketing campaign which began in Japan in 1974, Kentucky Fried Chicken has been associated with Christmas.
The Colonel´s famous chicken is eaten widely throughout Japan over the Christmas period. Over 240,000 barrels of the stuff will be sold during Christmas – almost 10 times its normal monthly sales.
The ´Caganer´ in Catalonia, Spain
Strange but true, the Catalonian ´Caganer´ is a figure of a Catalan man wearing traditional clothes, squatting with his trousers around his ankles. Dating back to the 18th century, his poo is a sign of good luck as it is said to fertilise the earth and ensure a good harvest for the coming year.
Closely associated is the ´Caga Tió´ which is a small log with a smiley face wearing a traditional Catalan hat. Small children ´feed´ the ´Caga Tio´ with nougat and fudge and keep it warm under a blanket so that he will ´poo´ out lots of treats on Christmas Eve.
Saint Nicholas and the Devil in Austria
A traditional Christmas story is told in Austria every 4 December. Saint Nicholas is said to visit children along with the devil. The two ask the children if they have been good or bad. If the children say they have been bad, the devil tries to strike them with a stick. St. Nicholas sends them running so he can protect them from the devil. On December 6, St. Nicholas´ Day, good children receive fruits, sweets and toys.
Midnight mass is held on Christmas Eve and a traditional meal is baked carp. A nativity scene is displayed in most homes.
Shoe-tossing in the Czech Republic
Single people in the Czech Republic who are looking for a partner stand with their backs to the door on Christmas Day and toss a shoe over their shoulders. If the shoe lands pointing to the door they will get married soon. If not, they will have to wait until next year.
Remembrance in Finland
Families in Finland enjoy a day of remembrance on Christmas Eve when they visit the graves of their ancestors and light candles. Cemeteries throughout Finland are lit up, presenting a beautiful and emotional scene.
Saving the Goat in Sweden
In 1966, a 13 metre tall goat was made of straw and erected in Gavle town square. The goat went up in flames at midnight on Christmas Eve. Local carried on building the goat, year after year while vandals continued to burn it down. By 2011 the Gavle goat had been burned down 25 times, including in 2001 when a USA tourist was jailed for the offence.
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