Christmas – a time for family, for loved ones, food and celebration, but did you know not every country celebrates on 25 December as we do here in Hong Kong? Many Christmas celebrations also last for more than one day in other parts of the world. Here are just some of the weird and wonderful Christmas traditions around the world.
Russia and Ukraine celebrate this special day, not on the 25th of December, but on the 7th of January! This is because the Orthodox church uses the old Julian calendar for religious celebrations. A traditional Russian Christmas can see people fasting up to 39 days, then celebrating once the first evening star appears in the sky on January the 6th (Christmas Eve), when a 12-course meal, in honour of the 12 apostles, will begin.
How to say Happy Christmas in Russian: ‘Счастливого Рождества’
For many people in Japan, Christmas dinner consists of a bucket of fried chicken from the fast food chain KFC. It is so popular in some parts that you even have to make a reservation if you want to eat in the restaurant!
How to say Happy Christmas in Japanese: ‘Merii Kurisumasu / メリークリスマス’
In the Czech Republic, single women take part in a rather strange tradition to find out whether the upcoming year holds one in continued single-hood, or of marriage. On Christmas Eve, they turn their backs to the house door and throw one a shoe over their shoulder. It’s said that if the shoe lands with the heel facing the door, she will definitely stay single for another year, while if the front of the shoe faces towards the door, she should move out of her parents house and start making wedding preparations.
How to say Happy Christmas in Czech: ‘Veselé Vánoce’.
For 40 years, to mark the beginning of the festive season, a town in Sweden puts up a huge goat in the town center. The aim of the game is to try and burn down the goat before Christmas Day. Residents try everything they can to vandalise the goat before the 25th of December, even dressing up as Santa Claus, or other angles to disguise their intentions. Since 1996, the straw goat has only survived until Christmas Day 10 times!
How to say Happy Christmas in Swedish: ‘God Jul’.
In Norway, legend has it that on Christmas Eve, witches and evil spirits come out looking for brooms to ride on. Therefore, all households in Norway are supposed to hide all brooms in the cupboards to prevent witches finding them. Men are also known to go outside a shoot guns to ward away the evil spirits
Happy Christmas in Norwegian: ‘God Jul’.
India’s population is mainly Hindu and Muslim, but those who do celebrate Christmas tend to decorate mango or banana trees instead of purchasing a Christmas tree!
How to say Happy Christmas in Indian (Hindi): ‘Śubh krisamas’.
With a heavy British influence, Hong Kong celebrates just like they do in Blighty – on the 25th, taking an extra day on Boxing Day.
How to say Happy Christmas in Cantonese: ‘Seng Dan Fai Lok (聖誕快樂)’.