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Different Christmas traditions

JOBURG – decorating the tree with spider webs and getting a visit from Santa's scary friend. Learn more about wacky Christmas traditions from around the world.

It began when you saw the first Christmas beetles flying around one night. Then, the decorations appeared in all the shopping centres (seemingly instantaneously).

Every advertisement on television began to feature a jolly fat man wearing red and you realised it was about time you got round to untangling last year’s Christmas lights.

Yes, the traditions you see surrounding this time of year are pretty easy to recognise as the beginnings of the holiday season, but Christmas customs in other parts of the world aren’t always as expected.

  • in Germany and Austria, naughty children won’t get a visit from Father Christmas; they’ll get one from Krampus instead. The devilish friend of Santa will use branches to give them a hiding if they have behaved badly!
  • Many South African Christians will leave out some cookies and milk for Santa on Christmas Eve, but in Northern Ireland that isn’t enough. Children there are also expected to leave out a carrot or two as well, so Santa’s reindeers can have a snack as well! Also, sometimes Santa wants a beer instead of just milk.
  • You might be surprised to see a Ukrainian Christmas tree because instead of tinsel and baubles Ukrainians decorate their tree with a fake spider in a web! This tradition stems from an old wives tale, in which a poor woman could not afford decorations. In the story, she wakes up one morning to find that a spider had taken pity on her situation and had used his glittering web to decorate her tree instead.
  • In Norway, they aren’t worried about the Grinch stealing their presents – because it’s far more likely that a witch will steal the broom! Christmas Eve is said to be the time when an evil witch or spirit will fly away on your broom if you leave them in plain sight, so everyone hides the family brooms before going to bed.
  • Although only about 2 per cent of the population of India is Christian, that still works out to about 25 million people who will celebrate Christmas. Instead of decorating fir or pine trees, though, they will instead use and decorate trees that are more common in the area, such as banana and mango trees.

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