Competition for the Strangest Christmas Tradition

Ah, the holiday season! It’s a time for family, and friends, giving thanks, and eating KFC? As Christmas rapidly approaches people everywhere prepare in many different ways. Here are some of the strangest Christmas traditions around the world.

Czech Republic – Shoe Throwing
Some people have a feast, and some may watch movies, but in Czech, on Christmas Eve single women stand outside of their houses and throw a shoe over their shoulder. If the shoe lands pointing to the door, the woman will get married that year. There’s no better way to find out if you’re going to be able to tie the knot than asking a shoe!

Discover Walks captures the shoe toss.
Yule goat before and during burning, photo from New York Magazine.

Sweden – Burning Goat
Don’t worry, the goat is not real! In Sweden, every year towns put up a huge holiday goat to mark the beginning of the season. The goat is called the Yule goat. The goat that is made of straw stands in the square there taunting people with its flammability. The first goat started in 1966 and lasted until New Year’s Eve before it was destroyed. In the past years, it has not been so lucky. People began the tradition of lighting it on fire, and the towns have taken measures to prevent this, however, it seems inevitable.

Japan – KFC Dinner
Many people work hard in the kitchen preparing a lovely home-cooked meal for Christmas dinner, but the Japanese do not. Less than 1% of Japanese citizens identify as Christians, so they have no Christmas holiday traditions. In 1974, KFC launched its first “Kentucky for Christmas” campaign including special deals and a holiday bucket; the tradition has stuck since. Maybe the Japanese are onto something with the deep-fried dinner.

KFC Christmas bucket from Business Insider.

Ukraine – Spider Webs
From the legend of spiders decorating a poor family’s tree, the Ukrainians have kept up with the tradition. Every year, they put an ornament or artificial spider webs on their tree as a sign of good luck for the upcoming year. What a web-tacular way to bring in the year!

USA – Fruitcake
Leave it to Americans to have the most strange and gross traditions. The fruitcake started with the European colonists that came to America. With more sugar from the Caribbean, the easiest way to preserve fruit was to candy it. This led to the fruitcake which was a go-to gift with its long shelf, no need to refrigerate, and simple recipe. That being said, it is still very weird that we pass around an old cake we have no intention of eating.