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Weird Christmas Traditions

Tió de Nadal is Catalonia's bizarre version of the Yule log | Image:

This festive season we're heading to the bayou for a special Christmas episode with our favourite swamp man Shelby.

Shelby doesn't do things like everyone else and as it turns out neither does the rest of the world when it comes to Christmas traditions.

Feliz Navidad! Joyeux Noel. Tis the season for advent calendars, stockings and eating so much turkey you risk gout.

But what about the other, lesser-known Christmas traditions, like whipping every first-born son or mistletoe hunting? How do these festive customs from bygone eras and places around the world rank on your Christmas calendar? Here are the bizarre Christmas traditions you might be missing out on.

Mistletoe hunting

Only in the U.S. would Christmas involve guns for something other than hunting down your Christmas lunch. But in certain parts of the southeast, this is exactly how mistletoe is taken: blasting it off the tops of the trees it grows on.

‘Santa and Machine Guns’

Continuing the theme, in Arizona, the tradition of ‘Santa and Machine Guns’ is wildly popular, with families lining up to get their picture taken with Father Christmas and the guns and grenade launchers of their choice.

Elves issue safety precautions for anyone unfamiliar with how to handle their choice of weaponry.


Join the largest Christmas pub crawl, where people dress in festive costumes and take to the streets (or rather, bars) for a Christmas knees up. Originating in San Francisco in the 1990s, the event has seen 13,000 Santas gather in Ireland and 70,000 in Moscow in previous years.

Christmas skating

Venezuelans forego traditional means of transport when it comes to going to Christmas Mass in favour of roller skates. Streets are closed off to cars in the early hours so people can make their way to church on skates safely.

Tió de Nadal

The Yule log becomes ‘caga tió’ in Catalonia, or ‘defecating log’. A face is drawn onto a log, which is then fed treats in the lead up to Christmas.

Come Christmas Eve, the family gathers round the log and puts it into the fire, singing traditional songs and taking turns to beat it with sticks to make it defecate the treats it has been fed.

Mari Lwyd

In Wales, a person is disguised as a horse, complete with a horse’s skull and parades through the streets, going from door to door singing as part of a luck-bringing tradition.

KFC Christmas

Forget the turkey, in Japan KFC is now the traditional festive meal of choice.

Santa Claus World Championships

Teams from across the world gather in a small town in Switzerland for the Santa Claus World Championships: a festive set of games that sees a ski resort overrun with people dressed as Santa, taking part in everything from chimney climbing contests to rocking horse obstacle courses, all for the ultimate goal of being crowned the best Father Christmas.