Christianity is a global religion, as celebrations surrounding Christ’s birth illustrates. Traditions, folklore and mysteries also enters the season.
Austria: On December 6th, Christmas half goat/half devil, lurks about to beat naughty children with birch branches then drag them to his underworld lair.
Germany: Parents hide a pickle ornament deep among the Christmas tree branches, and the child to find it receives an extra gift and good luck in the year ahead.
Finland: Families visit the sauna together on Christmas Eve.
Portugal: A Christmas morning feast called Consoda is held for remembering dead loved ones. Plates are laid at the table for those who have passed and often crumbs are sprinkled for them on the fireplace hearth.
Czech Republic: On Christmas, unmarried women stand by a door and throw a shoe over their shoulder. If the toe points toward the door, they’ll get married that year.
Norway: Norwegians can’t clean on Christmas. All the brooms are hidden so they won’t be stolen by witches or other nefarious spirits.
South Korea: Santa Harabujee, or Santa Grandfather, sometimes dresses in a traditional red, but he can wear a blue suit too. Clothing colors aren’t the only unconventional yuletide choice in South Korea. Many non-Christians consider Christmas a romantic holiday; radio stations ditch the Christmas carols for love songs and restaurants fill up with reservations for two quickly.
Greece: Many believe in Kallikamtzeri: goblins that cause mischief during the 12 Days of Christmas. Gifts are usually exchanged on January 1st which is St. Basil’s Day.
Slovakia: The head of the family takes a spoon of Loksa, or bread pudding, and throws it at the ceiling. The more that sticks, the better the crops for the year.
Iceland: Children leave a shoe on their windowsill, which is filled with treats every night of the 12 Days of Christmas.
Greenland: The raw fish of an Auk, an Arctic bird, is wrapped in seal skin and placed under a rock for several months so that it will decompose. It is considered a Christmas delicacy.
New Zealand: Rather than all-green trees, Kiwis decorate Pohutukawa trees, a costal evergreen with bright and red aster-like flowers.
Guatemala: Each neighborhood collects a pile of dirt swept from all its houses, then places the pile on the effigy of the devil, then burns it.
South Africa: Most of South Africa’s Christmas traditions are festive, there is a rather creepy cautionary tale of a little boy named Danny who ate all the Christmas cookies before Santa arrived and for his gluttony was murdered by his own grandmother.
Mexico: Piñatas are filled with candy and coins are hung in the trees and homes in the ceiling. Children take turns hitting the piñatas with a stick to try and burst it open to spill the treats on the floor and grab all the goodies they can.
Ethiopia: Ethiopians celebrate Christmas on January 7th. Everyone wears white to mark the holiday.
China: Santa Claus is often depicted playing the saxophone. He doesn’t travel with elves, rather he travels the globe with festively dressed women.
Ukraine: Ukrainians decorate their Christmas tree with a fake spider and an artificial web as part of a that has its roots and tradition in the legend of a poor woman whose children awake in the night and find that spiders have decorated their tree for them in the night.
There’s only one more thing to say—Joy to the World.