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Unusual Christmas traditions

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By Fiona Reid
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Unusual Christmas traditions

FROM giant lanterns and roller skating, to broom hiding and defecating logs, some of the weirdest and wackiest Christmas traditions from around the world have been revealed. Travel experts at MyBaggage.com have named six of the most unusual global festive traditions. A spokesman said: “Nativity scenes, Christmas trees and gift giving are pretty standard festive practices in the UK and lots of other Western countries, but some countries offer a different take on Christmas altogether. “Whilst some of these traditions might seem a little odd to Brits, have a think about your own festive habits in Dumfriesshire. Taken out of context, eating Brussel Sprouts, pulling crackers and wearing paper crowns might seem unusual to some foreigners, too!”

1. Giant Lantern Festival, Philippines:  The Giant Lantern Festival is held in the city of San Fernando – “the Christmas Capital of the Philippines” – on the Saturday before Christmas Eve each year, attracting spectators from all over the globe. Eleven villages take part in the festival and competition is fierce as everyone pitches in trying to build the most elaborate lantern. Originally, the lanterns were simple creations at around half a metre in diameter, but today they’re made from a variety of materials and have grown to around six metres in size!

2. Krampus, Austria: Krampus is St. Nicholas’ evil accomplice; a devilish creature that roams city streets frightening kids and punishing the naughty ones. In Austrian tradition, St. Nicholas rewards the good boys and girls, while Krampus is said to capture the bad ones and whisk them away in his sack. In the first week of December, young men dress up as Krampus, frightening children with clattering chains and bells.

3. Broom hiding, Norway: Perhaps one of the most unorthodox Christmas Eve traditions comes from Norway, where people hide their brooms. It’s a tradition that dates back hundreds of years, when people believed that witches and evil spirits emerged on Christmas Eve looking for brooms to ride on. Many people still hide their brooms in the safest place in the house to stop them from being stolen.

4. Roller skating to church, Venezuela: Every Christmas Eve, residents in the city of Caracas head to church in the early morning – on roller skates. This unique tradition is so popular that roads across the city are closed to cars so that people can skate to church safely.

5. Cobweb Christmas, Ukraine: Ukraine’s strangest festive tradition isn’t one for arachnophobes! Where we would have baubles, tinsel and fairy lights, Ukrainians use decorations that mimic spiders’ webs shimmering with dew. The tradition goes back to a folktale about a poor widow who could not afford to decorate a tree for her children. Legend has it that spiders in the house took pity on the family’s plight, and spun beautiful webs all over the tree, which the children awoke to find on Christmas morning.

6. Festive sauna, Finland: Many homes in Finland come equipped with their own sauna, and at Christmas time this cosy spot becomes a sacred space associated with long dead ancestors. On Christmas Eve, it’s customary to strip naked and take a long and respectful stint in the sauna, which is also believed to be home to the legendary sauna ‘elf’. After the sauna session, Finns head out to the evening celebrations.

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