Strangest Christmas traditions around the world

Strangest Christmas traditions around the world

Tuesday 28th Nov 2023 |

Christmas celebrations will soon be in full swing, and experts have revealed the unique ways the festive season is celebrated across the globe. 

Travel experts at have researched the ten most surprising ways people celebrate the holidays. 

Whilst the Japanese rush over to KFC for their Christmas dinner, the Polish believe that animals gain the ability to speak on Christmas Eve. 

Meanwhile, people all across Caracas, Venezuela, will travel on roller skates through the city to gather together at an early-morning Christmas service. 

Many traditions go far beyond exchanging gifts and decorating the Christmas tree, so those travelling abroad should educate themselves on different festive traditions.

John Charnock, CEO of said: “Although the festive period is a wonderful time to spend with family and friends, exchange gifts, decorate the house and eat lots of food, cultures around the world enjoy their own unique traditions.

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“From the slaughtering of pigs in Romania to polishing shoes and leaving them on the street for gifts in Germany, everywhere enjoys the festive season in different ways so it is important to be open-minded if travelling abroad in December.”

10 Unique Christmas traditions around the world:

1. Japan

Christmas dinners in Japan look very different to most countries – the Japanese typically eat a meal from KFC. Some pre-order chicken meals months in advance and long queues are expected on the 25th outside KFC restaurants. 

2. Poland

In Poland, it is believed that during the Christmas Eve dinner, animals are given the gift of speaking for the night. According to legend, this is thanks to the animals who helped receive baby Jesus during his birth. 

3. Germany

On the evening of the 5th, a day before Saint Nicholas Day, children polish their shoes and leave them on the street, to later find them filled with chocolates and sweets as a reward for good behaviour. 

4. Venezuela

On Christmas Eve, residents of Venezuela’s capital city, Caracas,will be seen travelling to Christmas mass on roller skates. Skating is such a popular tradition that the streets are closed to cars, allowing skaters to travel safely and enjoy this fun Christmas activity.

5. China

In China, Santa is known as Sheng dan Lao ren, and he has fellow helpers called ‘sisters.’ This means that Santas dressed up in shopping centres will have costumed women by their side, and not pointy-eared elves. 

6. The Netherlands

The evening of December 5th is the most exciting Christmas day for children as it is the time ‘Sinterklaas’ arrives with presents. Kids will leave a shoe by the fireplace, sing Dutch Christmas songs and wait for their gifts to arrive. 

7. Italy

Italian tradition sees bizarre bagpipe-playing shepherds perform tunes in piazzas, normally dressed in traditional sheepskin and wool cloaks. The pipers travel in pairs down from their mountain homes for a festive spectacle. 

8. Romania

Romania’s Christmas traditions are very unique, and arguably the most important is the slaughtering of a pig. Families gather in rural areas to sacrifice one of their pigs and use the meat to cook Christmas meals. 

9. Australia 

Christmas in Australia is during the Summer, so it is common to see surfing Santas in bright red fleece suits, lined with white fur and big black boots, on the big day. 

10. Spain

The Spanish Christmas lottery is the biggest in the world. Almost everyone in the country plays, usually with friends, coworkers or neighbours because it usually pays out over two billion euros each year. 

For information on travelling around Christmas time, head over to