We’re getting geared up for the festive season at United Response.

While a lot of us think we’ve got Christmas wrapped up to-a-t, there are lots of traditions and urban legends you’ve probably never even heard of! In the spirit of giving we’ve made a quick list of 12 of the quirkiest below. 


Japan – Even though Christmas isn’t celebrated as a national holiday, Japan just can’t get enough of KFC at Christmas. Thanks to the successful ‘Kentucky for Christmas’ ad campaign in 1974, masses now flock to KFC for a festive chicken, some queuing for longer than two hours!

Norway – Norwegians regard Christmas Eve with similar a belief as Halloween. Superstition means they hide their mops and broomsticks because they believe this is the night when witches and evil spirits taunt the living. 

Germany – In keeping with all things pickled, in Germany they have a rather smelly Christmas tradition. On Christmas Eve a pickle is hidden in the Christmas tree and in the morning the first child to find it gets a small present. Thankfully, this tradition is more recently a pickle ornament. 

Austria – In Austrian folklore a beast-like creature called Krampus, a counterpart to Saint Nicholas, scared children into being nice. A modern take on the tradition involves men dressing up as the beast to go on the Krampus Run in early December.  

South Africa – South Africans celebrate with a rather unusual dish on the Christmas specials menu - deep fried caterpillars of the Emperor Moth. 

Spain – Catalonians have an ancient tradition of ‘Tió de Nadal’ the Christmas log. Children decorate the log and cover it in a blanket, traditionally the log gets bigger leading up to Christmas. At Christmas the children sing and hit the log with a stick until it drops sweets and presents. 

Mexico – In Mexico they have an ancient custom spanning 117 years called ‘Night of the radishes’ which is held on 23rd December. Locals carve large radishes into elaborate sculptures to be judged. Over a hundred join in every year drawing large crowds to see the competition. 


Ukraine – Ukrainian tradition calls for Christmas trees to be decorated with spider webs to insure good fortune in the coming year. The custom stems from an ancient legend of a poverty-stricken widow who couldn’t afford to decorate her tree. That Christmas her children woke to the tree decorated in spider webs that turned to silver and gold in the light. From that day forward they were blessed and successful. 

Canada – For the past 30 years Canadian post volunteers have been replying to millions of letters sent to Santa. Letters come in from children all over the world to the official Santa’s postcode H0H 0H0 and the helpers reply in many different languages, including Braille.

America – Every year at the Rumpke Sanitary Landfill, near Ohio, workers string 30,000 Christmas lights across the masses of rubbish. The display, including 25-foot-tall candy canes, stretches over 234 acres and is 279 feet high.

Venezuela – In the week leading up to Christmas, Venezuelan families attend early morning mass every day. In Caracas, the capital city, the streets at closed before 8am for families to roller blade to church.  

Sweden – The Scandinavian tradition of the Yule Goat has existed throughout Swedish history. In the town of Gävle, a 13 metre tall straw goat has been built in the town square every year since 1966. That year it was mysteriously burnt down on New Year’s Eve. Each year locals make bets on the goat’s odds of surviving until the year’s end – almost half of the time it hasn’t. 


Although some of these traditions may seem a little odd, they unite the communities involved. So why not take a moment and think about what makes your community special, whether it’s your family, friends, neighbours or all of the above, and create a card about it for our ‘Christmas creations’ competition.

Sarah Riddlestone, fundraising assistant.