Spain: "The bizarre Catalonian tradition of caga tió" (or 'defecating guy' / 'defecating log' in English) "involves creating a character out of a small log which sits on the dining room table during the fortnight leading up to Christmas. It has to be fed every day with fruit, nuts and sweets, and then –on Christmas Eve – the entire family beats the log with sticks, while singing traditional songs, forcing the log to excrete its treats."
Austria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Slovenia and Northern Italy: "Santa’s evil accomplice, the Krampus, haunt streets looking to punish children who have misbehaved..."
Norway: "Norwegians believe that Christmas Eve coincides with the arrival of evil spirits and witches. Logically, therefore, households will hide all their brooms before they go to sleep."
Ukraine: "In addition to the standard tinsel, lights and baubles, Ukrainian Christmas trees are traditionally adorned with an artificial spider and web. It is said to bring good luck and its origins lie in the tale of a poor woman who could not afford to decorate her tree. She awoke on Christmas morning to discover that a spider had covered it in a glorious, sparkling web."
Italy: "La Befana is a kindly witch that hands out presents at Christmas."
Greenland: "Christmas cuisine in Greenland doesn’t quite compete with" what most of us are used to. "Mattak – raw whale skin with a little blubber– is one festive delicacy, as is kiviak, which is made by wrapping an auk (a small arctic bird) in seal skin, burying it for several months and eating its decomposed flesh."
London: "It’s difficult to understand how diving into freezing water on Christmas Day ever became popular, but it has become an annual custom in England where brave people swim in the Serpentine in Hyde Park."
Oaxaca, Mexico: "Every December 23 in the Mexican city of Oaxaca, thousands of residents flock to the main plaza to see an exhibition of sculptures cut from radishes. Themes usually include nativity scenes."
The USA: "The Christmas Pickle is a tradition in the United States. A decoration in the shape of a pickle is hidden on a Christmas tree, with the finder receiving either a reward or good fortune for the following year. There are a number of different origin stories attributed to the tradition, including an origination in Germany. This theory has since been discounted, and it is now thought to be an American tradition created in the late 19th century."
Merry Christmas everyone!