Crazy Christmas Traditions from Around the World

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Two women sunbathe beside Christmas trees in Federation Square, Melbourne, Australia. Press Association Images
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Sweden

For more than 40 years the Swedish town of Gävle has erected a giant straw goat to mark the beginning of the holiday season.

But every year vandals do everything they can to burn down the goat before Christmas Day. The authorities have tried dousing it in flame-retardant liquid, but still the arsonists have managed to win the day.

But don’t think the goat-burning tradition is one you should join in with yourself – an American tourist was once convicted of arson after he burned it down, thinking it was a fun tradition and not realising it was illegal.
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Austria

Austria is a country known for its Christmas markets, where you can buy handmade crafts, as well as traditional Christmas food like gingerbread and hot punch.

But here the Yuletide season is also a time for scaring people. Men walk around dressed as the Krampus – a nasty-looking, horned demon. He’s the dark side of St Nicholas – in other words, the creature thought to punish children who’ve been naughty during the year.
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Australia

We associate Christmas with snow and log fires and turkey. Not so in Australia, where December is the height of summer. 

Some Australians – and lots of tourists – like to have their Christmas dinner at midday on a local beach. Sydney’s most famous stretch of sand, Bondi Beach, attracts thousands of people on Christmas Day, who come to sun themselves and dine on a feast of seafood (oh yes – it’s all about putting a shrimpie on the barbie…) 

Meanwhile, Father Christmas arrives on a surfboard...
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Ukraine

Christmas is all about Santa Claus, reindeer, mince pies and… spiders? Well, only if you live in Ukraine.

There, spiders and their webs are considered good luck, so Ukrainians decorate their Christmas trees with spider webs made from crystal, paper or plastic.

Another tradition involves hiding a spider web in the tree – whoever finds it Christmas day will have good luck that year.
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Japan

In Britain we eat turkey, in Japan they eat… KFC. Seriously - it’s true.

Only 1% of Japanese people celebrate Christmas, but thanks to a hugely successful ad campaign back in 1974, which popularised the phrase ‘Kentucky for Christmas’, many Japanese people now associate the holiday with tucking into a KFC.

Christmas Eve is the busiest day of the year for the chain, and it’s such a favourite that many people put in their orders for Christmas Party Barrels in October. Even on Japan Airlines you can tuck into a KFC over the Christmas period.
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