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10 Most bizarre Christmas traditions found in Europe


Xseon - Shutterstock

8 de diciembre: participante de un desfile tradicional llamado krampuslauf con disfraces de fantasía y máscaras de madera hechas a mano el 8 de diciembre de 2018 en Bad Toelz, Alemania

Cerith Gardiner - published on 12/20/23

The Advent and Christmas season is cause for much celebration, and some rather unusual rituals!

We recently shared some of the most popular Catholic Christmas traditions in Europe. While many incorporated the faith, others embodied all the wonders of the Christmas spirit.

However, as with many festivities, a few traditions have crept in that have no religious connotations, but are nonetheless key to some of these countries’ Christmas celebrations.

Take a look below to see some of Europe’s whimsical and peculiar Christmas traditions that add a touch of light-heartedness to the holiday season.

Krampus night, Austria and Germany

On the evening of December 5, Krampus, a fantastical creature with horns and fur, engages in a comical pursuit alongside St. Nicholas, playfully punishing those on the naughty list.

Throwing shoes, Czech Republic

Single Czech women stand with their backs to the door on Christmas Eve and throw a shoe over their shoulder. If the toe points towards the door, they will get married soon.

Icelandic yule cat

The Yule Cat in Iceland is a feline with a peculiar appetite for those without new clothes. Although a fantastical tale, it adds a whimsical layer to the season’s festivities.

Puppet witch with broom

Hide the brooms, Norway

Norwegians traditionally hide their brooms on Christmas Eve to prevent mischievous witches and spirits from stealing them for a joyride.

Great Christmas Pudding Race, London

London hosts an annual charity event where participants don quirky costumes and navigate obstacle courses while balancing Christmas puddings. It’s a delightfully amusing way to raise funds during the holiday season.

Gävle goat, Sweden

The giant Gävle Goat in Sweden is an annual spectacle, attracting attention as locals playfully attempt to protect it from being “accidentally” set ablaze before Christmas.

Animal communication, Romania

On Christmas night, Romanian farmers believe that animals gain the ability to speak. People listen for their conversations in hopes of gaining insight into the coming year.

Belgian Cat Parade

Ypres, Belgium, hosts a delightful Cat Parade on Christmas Eve, where participants don cat-themed costumes, bringing a whimsical and light-hearted atmosphere to the holiday festivities.

Night of the radishes, Oaxaca, Mexico
Night of the Radishes in Oaxaca, Mexico

Mexican Night of the Radishes (European Influences)

The Night of the Radishes in Oaxaca, Mexico, showcases intricate radish carvings depicting festive scenes, blending European influences with Mexican creativity in a charming and unexpected display.

Yule Lads, Iceland

Iceland’s Yule Lads, a group of mischievous characters, embark on a 13-night journey before Christmas, each with a playful personality that adds a touch of fun and folklore to the season.

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