Christmas is less than a week away! Are you excited? We bet that wherever you are from, you have interesting holiday traditions, and today we would like to share the most peculiar ones from different countries in Europe. Some of them made us laugh, others made us think about our own traditions and find similarities, but overall we had a lovely time writing this piece, and we hope you will equally enjoy reading it!
Want to celebrate the Christmas season Lithuanian style? Then get together with the whole family and watch "Home Alone" , starring Macaulay Culkin! This movie has been the traditional Christmas movie in Lithuania for years.
You don't need to worry where to watch it, you will 100% see on TV! Christmas is not Christmas without this movie, tangerines, and a real Christmas tree!
Also, Lithuanians do not eat meat nor drink alcohol on Christmas Eve, they wait until the clock hits midnight and the real festivities can then begin.
Kids around the world look forward to the arrival of Santa Claus (usually on the 25th of December) but in Italy, one more person visits the city on the 5th of January, the witch La Befana.
Every year La Befana flies on her magic broom to every house in Italy in search of baby Jesus, and, of course, she is bringing gifts along the way!
So, it makes Italy one of the few places in the world where witches aren't deemed as scary.
Did you know that in Portugal it is the Three Wise Men and not a big, jolly man in a red suit who is the gift-bringer?
Most children in Portugal write their Christmas letters to baby Jesus asking for gifts rather than to Santa Claus.
It is a country deeply rooted in the Catholic religion, and religious traditions are still very present. Another tradition is setting an extra seat at the dining table for relatives who passed away. It is done during the Christmas Eve dinner called "Consoda".
Norwegians have some peculiar Christmas traditions, and if you've spent the holidays in Norway, you know of what we speak.
One of the most uncommon traditions is "eating a sheep's head". And no, this is not a creative way to call a chocolate cake or a funny name for a Christmas game.
It literally means eating a sheep's head. This dish is actually the main course and is usually prepared and eaten right before Christmas. Would you dare to try?
If you're a sweet tooth, don't miss the chance to celebrate the Christmas season in the Provence of France. One dessert is not nearly enough - people there enjoy thirteen dessert options after the Christmas meal!
These desserts usually include pastries, candied fruit, dried fruit, and nougat, and sharing these deserts symbolizes sharing the joy Christ brings to everyone. So if you have a hard time deciding what to order for dessert, you won't have that problem in France.
When it comes to the East of Europe, you'd be surprised to learn that Russians actually go to work on Christmas (December 25th), and their celebration starts only on New Years Eve.
Besides all the regular aspects of holidays like an amazing variety of traditional dishes, fireworks, and dancing, they have one special custom they like to do right before it's midnight.
Russians write down their aspirations for the following year on a tiny piece of paper and start burning them on the last minute before the new year. Once the clock shows 00.00 they pour the ashes to their champagne and drink it, believing that the wish will come true in the new year.
One of the most surprising holiday traditions come from Spain's Catalan region, where children gather on Christmas Eve to whack the Tio de Nadal (Christmas Log), so that it could poop out gifts and candies, while singing:
Hazelnuts and mató cheese,
If you don't shit well,
I'll hit you with a stick,
According to a common superstition, single ladies of the family have to toss their shoes over their shoulder towards the door. If the shoe lands pointing at it, the thrower will get married the upcoming year, if it points the opposite way - unlucky!
Christmas comes 20 days early in this country with one of the most quintessentially German traditions - Sankt Nikolaus Tag (St. Nicholas Day).
On the night of the 5th of December, children around Germany get super serious about their shoe appearance and start cleaning and polishing them. And it is because they are about to receive the most special guest of the year - St. Nicolas (Santa Claus).
Kids leave their shiny shoes outside their doors and wake up to find them filled with candy, small gifts, and nuts.
To Slovaks, Christmas Eve is a very special day. Like many other European nations, they eat carp as the main dish during dinner, but the preparation time leading to the dinner is what is peculiar.
After the fish is caught it is then brought to family's bathtub where it lives for the next few days leading to Christmas Eve. The family cannot use the bathroom at that time.
Before or after dinner, children are also told that Jesus is about to bring a Christmas tree and it takes a special effort for parents to decorate it whilst it is still outside and hide it from their little ones.