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5 International Christmas Traditions That Will Surprise You (Unless You’re From Germany, Norway, Catalonia, Ukraine or from the USA)

Christmas is a pretty straightforward holiday — or so you might think. But with the myriad of international communities that celebrate Jesus’ birth, there’s a bevy of seemingly strange and even frightening traditions that happen every year in late December. Thanks to translation services making the world just a bit smaller and easier to understand, every year we’re learning more and more about our cousins — and their traditions — around the world. Here are five surprising Christmas traditions! Happy Holidays!


1. The Krampus

If you’re into Christmas movies, you might soon become acquainted with Germany and Austria’s Krampus, Santa Claus’ right-hand man. Instead of spreading joy and gifts, however, the ugly old Krampus walks the streets searching for naughty children to punish. How festive!

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via Giphy

2. Hide the Brooms

In Norway, people tell stories of witches and evil spirits that roam the streets on Christmas Eve. These creatures are on the hunt for the perfect broomsticks to carry them around, so families hide all the brooms before going to bed the night before Christmas.

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via Giphy

3. Caganers

Literally “the defecators,” caganers decorate the nativity scenes of Catalonian Christians. These much-loved characters are crafted with their pants down and little Hershey’s Kiss-style lumps of brown below their bottoms. Sure, it might seem a little blasphemous or rude to those of us who, well, don’t consider defecation a sweet part of the nativity, but maybe we just need to embrace the Catalan sense of Christmas humor.

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via Tumblr

4. Spider Webs on the Christmas Tree

In Ukraine, you’ll find Christmas trees covered in makeshift spider webs and spiders. This spooky visage actually pays homage to a holiday myth about a poor woman who couldn’t afford to decorate her tree. One morning she woke to find the tree decorated by spiders, and those webs turned to gold and silver on Christmas day.

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via Giphy

5. Ugly Sweaters

You’ve probably heard of this tradition already, and may even have taken part. Across the United States and Canada, people take special care to select the perfect “ugly” sweater to wear for Christmas parties and Christmas Day. This relatively new tradition stems from the practice of giving children homemade — often garish and unfashionable — knitted sweaters as gifts. Ugly sweaters in adulthood keep the feeling of the holidays (and memories of Grandma and Aunt Edna) alive.

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via Tumblr


Just like language, traditions can differ in funny ways from place to place. What Christmas holiday traditions surprised you recently?


The post 5 International Christmas Traditions That Will Surprise You (Unless You’re From Germany, Norway, Catalonia, Ukraine or from the USA) appeared first on Unbabel Blog.