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Christmas Traditions

It’s that time of year again…

The Christmas markets are back, Christmas songs are being played everywhere, and families are arguing over whose turn it is to do the dinner this year (if they haven’t already had it planned since January 2018!)…

But what are our friends from around the globe doing in the run up to Christmas and on the big day itself?

We love a weird and wonderful fact here at Tongue Tied, so we thought we’d put together a list of some of our favourite Christmas traditions from other countries!

Take a look and see whether you’ll be adopting any of them this year!


Have you met Krampus? He’s a lovely hybrid of goat and demon…

In the first week of December, St Nicholas does the rounds in Austria (and other European countries), giving out chocolate to the children who have been well-behaved for the past year…

But the night before Nikolaustag (St Nicholas day) in Austria, those who haven’t behaved well are in for a slightly disturbing encounter… with Krampus.

He leaves bundles of sticks or piles of coal for the children who have been naughty, and you’ll often find processions of Krampus-creatures parading around local villages as they scare children with their noisy bell-ringing and chains…

Slightly more extreme than just being on the naughty list!


These days Christmas is celebrated in more and more non-Christian countries, and Japan is one of those countries that has developed its own festive traditions.

A typical Christmas dinner in Japan involves… wait for it… fried chicken! That’s right, KFC is the go-to restaurant/takeaway for the Japanese on Christmas day! Wouldn’t that save a whole load of meal prep?!

And if that’s not enough, dessert is a Christmas cake, but not your standard fruit cake, in Japan it’s a sponge cake topped with strawberries and whipped cream!

Why not give your loved ones a surprise by treating them to a Japanese Christmas dinner this year?!


In the capital city of Venezuela, Caracas, the locals have a very special way of making it to the church on time for early morning services in the days leading up to Christmas…

Their chosen mode of transport is a good old… pair of roller skates!

Roads are often closed early in the morning to make way for the masses of skaters heading to church!


While the Austrians are keeping guard for the arrival of Krampus, the Norwegians spend their Christmas Eve worrying about evil witches and other supernatural spirits…

And we all know that witches need brooms to get around…

So what do the Norwegians do on Christmas Eve?

They hide all of their brooms in a safe place in the house before they go to bed to make sure that the witches won’t steal them to ride on!


If you’re looking for a twist on your Christmas tree decorations for this year, have you considered cobwebs?


Well in Ukraine, Christmas trees are often covered with fake cobwebs…

The tradition stems from a story about a poor family who couldn’t afford to decorate their Christmas tree. Some generous spiders then covered the tree in cobwebs overnight and when the family woke up on Christmas day, the cobwebs had turned into fancy gold and silver tinsel-like strings that served as beautiful decorations!

Christmas is usually celebrated on the 7th of January in Ukraine, based on the Julian calendar used by the Orthodox Church.


Now here’s a Christmas day tradition we could get used to – spending it in a sauna!!

After their Christmas lunch on the 24th of December, you’ll find most Finns relaxing and getting their sweat on in a sauna!

Part of their Christmas meal might be slightly less appealing… a bowl of porridge!

It’s usually topped with plenty of cinnamon and sugar though, and if you’re lucky enough to find the hidden almond in your bowl of porridge, you get to make a wish! 


In the Catalonian region of Spain, the Caga Tió, or ‘pooping log’, plays a big part in local Christmas traditions…

In the weeks leading up to Christmas, the log-like creature is given pride of place on the dining room table…

Every night, the log has to be fed with a variety of goodies (nuts, sweets, fruit, etc.) and on Christmas Eve, the log is expected to release, or defecate, all of these goodies!

People hit the log with sticks until it poops out all of the treats! There is even a song that can be sung to ease the process along… lyrics include “if you don’t poo well, I’ll hit you with a stick”…

A definite contender for the weirdest Christmas tradition!!

 We hope you’ve enjoyed our round-up of some of the world’s weirdest and most wonderful Christmas customs!

And keeping in the spirit of all things Christmas, we thought we’d give you an early present this year…

We’re offering our clients 10% off translations throughout December!

If you need a quote or any information, please don’t hesitate to get in touch! And do let me know if you think we’ve missed any interesting Christmas traditions from our list!

Isabella Fink

Isabella Fink

I am native Austrian and studied Linguistics and Literature at the University of Innsbruck and in Manchester, so language and translation has always been a passion of mine. Before joining Tongue Tied, I have worked as a Translation Assistant and in Customer Services and Purchasing.

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