In Norway, you need to do the cleaning before Christmas Eve because brooms and other cleaning tools are hidden for fear that witches and evil spirits might steal them. For this purpose, men fire their guns to chase them away. In some parts of Norway, people light a candle every night through New Year’s Day. But the most famous Norwegian Christmas tradition is related to a huge Christmas tree that the country gives to the United Kingdom and the British light it up in the Trafalgar Square. The tradition is a reminder of the help British people gave to Norwegians during World War 2.
In Ireland, some people leave slices of traditional pie and alcoholic beverages for Santa Claus on Christmas Eve. In some parts of the country, on Christmas Eve, people light up a tall candle at a window shortly after sunset to help Mary and Joseph find their way.
In Sweden, authorities in Gävle have been building a gigantic straw goat to mark the start of the Advent ever since the mid-1970s. The goat is made of straw to remind people that baby Jesus came to the world in a humble manger. It takes two days to assemble the goat, and vandals seek all opportunities to burn it down before Christmas Day. Some of them pose as Santas to trick guardians and allow to get near the goat. The straw monument made it to Christmas Day only ten times in 50 years.
In Russia, Serbia, Ethiopia, Egypt and Ukraine, Christians celebrate Christmas 13 days later, on Jan. 7. This is because the Orthodox Church in these countries never adopted the Gregorian Calendar introduced by Pope Gregory in 1582. People there along with all Orthodox Christians in the world do not consume meat, eggs or diary products for 40 days before Christmas. The tradition is a remembrance of the 40-day-and-40-night-long fast of Moses before receiving the tablets with the Ten Commandments from God. The fasting period is accompanied by prayers, charity, cleansing of the soul within the Church, as believers strive to make their hearts a proper place for child Jesus to be born.
In Venezuela, authorities in the capital city close down main roads after 08:00 a.m. to allow people to roller skate their way to early church services.
In Japan, Christmas is not an official holiday, so expect to see stores open and people going to work or school. But in a recent tradition, families gather on Christmas Day to have dinner at KFC or they place orders for the famous fried chicken in advance. Traditionally, the Japanese eat a sponge cake on Christmas.
In Greenland, people put a bright star in their home’s windows, as during that time of the year the sun never rises. Greenland also doesn’t have any Christmas trees so the country has to get them from Denmark. The trees are usually decorated on Dec. 23. On Christmas Day, families gather to eat the traditional kiviak, which is raw meat from a polar bird that was buried wrapped in sealskin for seven months and left to decompose. Although it may sound gross to some of us, the kiviak is a very popular food among the Inuit people.
In Slovakia, on Christmas Eve, the family gathers for dinner and the father takes a hearty spoon of a traditional dish and throws the food up at the ceiling. The larger the amount of the mixture sticks to it, the richer the family would be next year. Moreover, the traditional Christmas meal in Slovakia has a dozen of main dishes that symbolize the 12 Apostles.