Everyone has Christmas traditions, from decorating the Christmas tree and untangling lights to carving the turkey and setting the pudding on fire. Although many people may put their own spin on the festive season, the vast majority of households will enjoy a conventional Yuletide, the same experience shared by millions of others around the UK. Move further afield however, across oceans and continents to far flung regions of the world where different, sometimes bizarre, Christmas traditions begin to emerge. If you are starting to get bored with the same old celebrations every year, read on to learn about some of the strangest and most interesting festive customs from across the globe, so you can enjoy a truly unique Christmas and discover some of the places that world cruises can take you to .
Japan – Kentucky Fried Christmas
Here in Britain, turkey is by far the most popular choice for Christmas dinner. Most folks get up early to put the bird in the oven and spend hours peeling sprouts, chopping potatoes and making the stuffing. In Japan however, turkeys are much trickier to get hold of, so a very different yuletide culinary tradition has come forward. Every year on Christmas Eve, millions of families indulge in a takeaway KFC, with many people queuing round the block to get their hands on the Colonel’s finest chicken or ordering ‘Christmas Party Barrels’ months in advance. The tradition came about after a mid-70s festive campaign across Japan used the tagline ‘Kentucky for Christmas’, which quickly caught on and nowadays is one of the country’s most popular annual customs. Fans of Kentucky Fried Chicken should definitely consider world cruises or Far and Middle East cruises to Japan next festive season for a very different Christmas feast.
Ukraine – Arach-noel-phobia
In the Ukraine, when the time to decorate the Christmas tree arrives, the population has drawn influence from an ancient local folk tale, the origins of which are unclear. The story tells of a family of spiders, banished to the attic due to a mother’s yuletide cleaning routine. It is said that the spiders were so downhearted about being unable to see the magnificent Christmas tree, that they crept out of the attic through cracks in the door and climbed all over the tree to see it up close. However, in their carelessness, they left a trail of webs behind them, covering the tree in sparkling mesh. For this reason, Ukrainians decorate their tree every year with shining spider’s webs, a tradition which can be observed on world cruises to the nation during the Christmas period.
India – Deck the Halls with Bells of…Bananas?
Staying with the Christmas tree theme, those who embark on world cruises calling at ports in India around Christmas time will not see pine or fir trees standing proudly to mark the festive season. Instead, Indians often decorate mango or banana trees, which are far more abundant in the region, with baubles, tinsel and lights as well as adorning their houses with large banana leaves. Although only around 2% of India’s population are Christian, many people still celebrate the yuletide period in this exotic and distinctive way.
Venezuela – Christmas on Wheels
Like many people around the world, the citizens of Venezuela attend a Christmas mass service to mark the birth of Christ. In Caracas however, the population have a particularly novel way of commuting to their local church. Many people will get up early and roller skate down to their local service, rather than do something boring and predictable like getting the bus or driving. Large portions of the Caracas’ road network are shut down to facilitate this mass skating symphony, as thousands glide across the city on four wheels. In an even more bizarre twist, it is traditional for children to tie the end of a length of string to their big toe and hang one end out of the window on Christmas Eve, so passing roller skaters can give a gentle tug as they pass to wake them on Christmas morning. If you are looking to experience one of the planets most intriguing and least conventional festive customs, world cruises to Venezuela will not disappoint.
Norway – The Ghoultide Season
European cruises and world cruises are a fantastic way to see the beautiful natural landscape of the fjords and experience the delightful local culture and traditions of Norway. One of the country’s yuletide customs however has a somewhat sinister side to it. Norwegian folklore states that when Christmas Eve arrives, an array of evil spirits and witches arrive with it. For this reason, the people of Norway hide all of the brooms in their house, lest one of those pesky witches tries to get their hands on it. Also, in some households the father of the family will fire a shotgun into the night sky just before Christmas, in an attempt to ward off any evil spirits that may be lurking in the shadows.
Despite the strange nature of these festive traditions, all of them are true and still practised by many people in the modern era. World cruises over Christmas are an amazing way to experience the diverse customs and fascinating habits of people all over the world during the most wonderful time of the year.