This blog post was updated on October 3, 2018.
Christmas Day traditions might seem pretty cut and dry. You surround yourself with family and friends with good food and holiday cheer. There might be gifts, carols and standard decorations. However, across the globe, Christmas can look very different. Here are some of the most unusual Christmas Day traditions around the world:
Rolling into Mass in Venezuela
The ride to Christmas Day mass is usually pretty standard for most people. You drive or walk to church services. However, in Caracas, Venezuela, some ride to mass by unconventional means. Many of the city’s roads close on Christmas so that people can roller blade to Mass for the holiday.
Hairy Goblins in Greece
Christmas Day isn’t filled with visions of sugarplums in Greece but rather hairy goblins. The Kallikantzaroi are Christmas goblins in the country. Each island and region has their own type of the goblin. They create mischief between Christmas and Epiphany across the country.
A KFC Christmas Feast in Japan
Nothing says Christmas quite like Kentucky Fried Chicken. In Japan many people feast on buckets of the fried chicken for Christmas. The tradition stems from a marketing campaign in 1974 in which KFC was promoted as a Christmas meal. Now an annual tradition, many in Japan even order their fried chicken in advance to have “Kurisumasu niwa kentakkii,” in other words, Kentucky for Christmas.
O Pohutukawa, O Pohutukawa in New Zealand
The New Zealand Christmas tree isn’t your average evergreen. The country actually recognizes a different tree as the symbol of the season. Most in New Zealand associate the pohutukawa with Christmas time, a flowering tree found along the coastline throughout the North and South Islands.
Whale Skin for All in Greenland
You might have ham, maybe even some kind of roast as your Christmas Day meal, but in Greenland whale skin is on the menu. Most in Greenland celebrate the holiday with mattak, whale skin with blubber. In addition, auk meat is served, called kiviak.
Put Out Porridge or Pudding in Denmark
In the U.S., many children put out cookies for Santa and his reindeer. In Denmark you put out rice pudding or porridge for the prankster Christmas elf, Nisse. Nisse is thought to play pranks on people so the porridge offering is a tactic implored to keep his tricks away on Christmas.