Photo: Natali Zakharova/Shutterstock
1. Spain’s Caganer
Meet the caganer, a male figurine with his pants rolled down mid-squat. Just what is this guy up to? Well, his activity is revealed when you translate his name – the defecator. Yes, this fella is in the midst of delivering a ‘number two’ in a far corner of the manger. Folklore says that farmers would be punished with a poor crop harvest and bad fortune if they didn’t include a caganer within their nativity scene. Today, the tradition continues with Christmas markets selling old school caganers alongside new versions that feature famous faces such as footballers, rock stars and Barack Obama.
2. Austria’s Krampus
According to Austrian folklore, jolly Saint Nicholas makes the rounds with a sidekick in tow – the devilish Krampus. The hairy creature visits Austrian children annually, but where Saint Nicholas bestows lavish gifts to all the good little girls and boys, Krampus does the unthinkable – he unleashes punishment to those on the naughty list. If he discovers a particularly bad child, he bundles him into a sack and carts him away, presumably for a midnight snack!
3. Japan’s KFC
While it’s true that Christmas isn’t really celebrated in Japan, a December 25th tradition centres on KFC. In fact, the Colonel’s special recipe is so popular in Japan at Christmas that KFC suggests that customers place their holiday order two months in advance. The chicken craze began back in 1974 when KFC bosses unveiled their first Christmas meal for visiting foreigners who wanted something that resembled a traditional holiday dinner. As it turns out, locals embraced the Christmas dinner, too and 40 years later, a unique tradition involving KFC continues in Japan to this day.