When we think of celebrating Christmas here in the United States, we envision brightly decorated Christmas trees covered with strings of twinkling lights.
And for those of us who celebrate the true meaning of Christmas (the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ) – we’ll read Bible passages and may even have a nativity scene on display.
But around the world… anything goes. From firing gunshots into the air to hiding brooms from witches… here are some of the most unique Christmas traditions from around the world.
Fireworks And Gunshots In El Salvador
When I was in El Salvador for Christmas, I was surprised to learn their big Christmas celebration doesn’t happen on Christmas Day – but instead takes place on Christmas Eve.
During Christmas, the entire country shuts down – and many families head to the beach to surf or hit the waterparks to cool off from the scorching heat.
It was a unique experience to spend Christmas in 90-degree heat with palm trees (covered in Christmas lights) – but that’s how they roll!
But one of the strangest “traditions” in some of the more rural or poorer neighborhoods in El Salvador includes shooting loaded guns into the air.
Yes, loaded. Really.
I was warned about it by the locals and kind of didn’t believe it…
… until I received this email from the State Department.
Don’t worry – I safely avoided the gunshots by watching from the barred windows inside my residence!
Half-Man/Half-Goat Figure Hunt Children in Austria
If children in Austria are “naughty” – they face a worse fate than a stocking full of coal.
Austrian tradition states that a half-man, half-goat figure named “Krampus” used to appear at Christmastime and frighten young children who misbehaved.
The folklore is kept alive today with adults dressing up in Krampus costumes to scare children in the streets.
Christmas Markets Austria reported:
“The Krampus traditionally appeared on the night before the Feast of St Nicholas (the evening of December 5).
They wore animal skins and carved wooden masks, had bells tied onto their costume so that people could hear the clanking coming through the darkness, and they carried long sticks. The chains that they sometimes wear are thought to be related to the idea of the creatures being bound to their place in the underworld, while the sacks that they carry are to take very bad children away with them.
In days gone by, the Krampus were seriously feared by smaller children, who were tossed into the sack and then dragged through the snow.
Nowadays however many of the larger cities and towns have formal processions which tend to be fairly orderly. Since the people inside the Krampus costumes are usually young men, many of the more organised clubs who keep this tradition alive delegate some older members to keep an eye on what is going on.”
Just when you thought you heard it all!
Hiding Mops and Brooms In Norway
Here in America, “Santa” may hide a gift in a special spot…
… but in Norway, folks hide mops and brooms each year.
Many Norwegians are known to be superstitious – and they believe that on Christmas, evil spirits and witches come back to earth and ride on brooms and mops to ruin the holiday.
So Norwegians hide all the brooms and mops in their home to protect themselves during Christmas.
Other cultures celebrate Christmas with lantern festivals like in the Philippines… or fried chicken in Japan.
But no matter how you choose to celebrate Christmas – we hope you have a beautiful time with your loved ones and experience true joy and peace this holiday season.
What Christmas traditions do you celebrate with your family?
Are there any new traditions you want to try?
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