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5 unusual Christmas traditions from around the world

UNITED KINGDOM | Friday, 7 December 2018 | Views [44]

Christmas is a celebration rooted in tradition, with many of the things that we now associate with Christmas having slowly emerged over time.

 

The first decorated Christmas tree is attributed to the Latvian city of Riga in 1510, while Christmas crackers were invented far more recently in the 1840s. Our modern jolly, red-clad interpretation of Santa Claus was famously created for a Coca-Cola advert, replacing the formerly stern, birch stick-waving Kris Kringle in the 1930s.

 

In addition to these classic Western traditions, there are many more wild and wonderful Christmas traditions around the world. Here are five of the most unusual:

 

1. Trying to burn the Gävle goat (Sweden)

 

Dating back to the ancient Germanic pagan traditions of Yule, a traditional Swedish decoration is a straw goat, which is believed to guard the Christmas tree. In the Swedish city of Gävle, this tradition is particularly popular, with the community building a huge 40-foot straw goat at the start of advent.

 

This wholesome tradition has also led to the unwitting birth of a slightly less pleasant one - where local prankster try to burn the goat down before the New Year. Since 1966, the goat has only made it through advent 12 times unscathed.

 

2. Banning of Christmas (Scotland and England)

 

Christmas is much-loved in the UK, but did you know it used to be banned in both England and Scotland? Oliver Cromwell made Christmas illegal in England between 1647 and 1660, claiming it to be immoral to celebrate on such a holy day.

 

Amazingly, in Scotland, Christmas was illegal for over 300 years! The holiday was banned by John Knox in 1640, who believed Christians should only celebrate holidays mentioned in the bible. The event wasn’t actually made legal again until 1958, with Scottish homes having to celebrate Christmas quietly until then!

 

3. You have a gift for me! (Lebanon)

 

On Christmas Day in Lebanon, an old tradition allows children to approach any adult and say “Editi ‘aleik!’, which means “You have a gift for me!”. If the adults have any presents to spare, the children can take them and add them to their own collection.

 

4. Kiviak (Greenland)

 

While different cultures all have their own traditional foods, one of longest to prepare (and definitely most unusual) is Greenland’s traditional Christmas dish - kiviak. The delicacy, which takes seven whole months to prepare, begins with hollowing out a seal skin.

 

The skin is then stuffed with 500 auks (a small variety of bird) and a larger sea bird - complete with feathers - and then left to ferment. At Christmas time this unconventional dish is then served straight from the seal skin.

 

5. Night of the Radishes, Mexico

 

One of the annual traditions in the Mexican state of Oaxaca takes place on the 23rd of December. Rivals compete to carve nativity scenes using large radishes, which are then displayed at Christmas markets.

 

So popular is this tradition that Oaxaca has land specifically designated for growing radishes just for this event.

 

Tags: christmas, traditions

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