To some of us, December is all about Mariah Carey Christmas tunes and digesting an obscene amount of food. Yet for others in the world, it’s all about steamy saunas and wearing outrageously bright underwear. In spirit of this, we’ve rounded up our 12 favourite quirky traditions and unique December events from across the globe. So, let’s get the bauble rolling…
1. Oaxaca, Mexico – Night of Radishes
If you thought pumpkin carving was bloody hard, how about trying to carve roses, animals and kings out of radishes? Eek! Noche de Rabanos is thought to have come about when merchants sculpted veg to attract housewives leaving midnight mass. Since then, it’s become kind of a big deal. The impressive vegetable sculptures are displayed in Oaxaca’s Zócalo (the main plaza) and judged on December 23rd, with the winners bagging a cash prize and serious street cred too.
2. Japan – KFC Xmas day
Launched in the 1970s to satisfy foreigners Christmas cravings, queuing up on Christmas Eve to pick up the Colonel’s fried chicken party barrel has now become a popular tradition. With sides, cake and even champagne! Why slave in the kitchen for hours when you could please the fam with a pre-ordered KFC dinner package? Japan, we’ll take note.
3. Iceland – Killer cats
What all fashionistas dream of hearing… in Icelandic folklore, it’s believed that unless you get a new piece of clothing for Christmas, you’ll be gobbled up by a huge black cat that scours Iceland come Christmas Eve. So, the more new clothes we receive, the safer we are right? Shopping spreeeee!
4. Philippines – Giant Lantern Festival
Star-shaped, brightly coloured lanterns, or parols, are a Filipino symbol of Christmas and can be seen hung up outside homes, along streets and even on palm trees on the beach. But if you’re looking for the best of the best, head to the Christmas capital, San Fernando City for their epic annual Giant Lantern Festival. Marvel at the individually crafted giant lanterns, made up of thousands of bulbs, twinkle and dance to the accompanying music. And we thought putting the lights around the Christmas tree was a mind-overload…
5. USA – The Running of the Santa’s bar crawl
Watch the streets fill up with Santa lookalikes as they run across the finish line and raise money (and a beer bottle) for local charities. What begun as 40 mischievous, booze craving Santa’s in Philadelphia has developed into a national bar crawl with live bands, a short run and a whole load of drink specials. On your marks, get set, SANTA!
6. South Africa – Wavescape Surf and Ocean Festival
For one week every December, Capetonian’s get together to celebrate something very close to their hearts: surf and ocean culture. This year, they’re highlighting the creative women of South Africa in a female dominated line-up of ocean-conscious events showcasing the talents of local photographers, activists and scientists. G’wan, ladies!
7. Estonia – Steamy saunas Preparing the house for family to arrive at Christmas can be a long task. But Estonians know the perfect way to appreciate the calm before the storm and reward themselves for all their hard work: a sauna sesh. So, let’s get hot and steamy and celebrate Christmas Eve the Estonian way.
8. Hawaii – Kauai Festival of Lights Well, it wouldn’t be Christmas without a shed-load of twinkling lights and homemade decs, now would it? This festival began in honour of the awesome Auntie Josie who made Christmas decorations out of recycled materials and opened her ‘Christmas House’ up for visitors to come and marvel at them. Her multi-thousand dollars’ worth of art work can now be viewed by the public at the Historic County Building, as well as their own selection of illuminated Christmas decorations.
9. Colombia – We heart yellow undies
Travelling to Colombia during New Years? Well, we hope you’ve packed your yellow undies because when the clock strikes 12, you’re going to need them! But why? Well according to Colombian tradition, wearing these banana hued briefs will bring wealth and prosperity in the coming year. So, if you’re looking to get rich quick this could be the ticket.
10. New Zealand – National Secret Santa
In New Zealand they’re taking Secret Santa to a whole new level! Since 2010, anyone can enter the national Secret Santa via Twitter and be matched with another twitter user taking part. Participants tweet hints of their interests and what they might like, and then the rest is over to the buyer to nail the perfect pressie. You can even get matched with the Prime Minister or a celeb! Pressurrrre.
TODAY’S THE DAY SANTAS! It’s #NZSecretSanta dispatch day!
Us Elves will be very busy today, so please be extra nice and extra patient with us as we get your presents on their way to you. pic.twitter.com/6q5a6QxtWB
— NZ Secret Santa (@nzsecretsanta) December 17, 2017
11. Austria – Creepy Krampus
If you’re a bit of a scrooge, perhaps Austria’s Krampus is more your vibe? Santa’s evil companion is a terrifying beast; half goat, half demon with horns, fangs, a chain and bells. So, if you’ve been bad this year jeeez get ready to run for it because according to folklore this guy is headed your way! On December 5th men dressed in Krampus costumes can be seen parading in Austria’s town centres and you can even nibble on a choccie version of the best.
12. UK – Christmas crackers
When it comes to sitting down at the dinner table to marvel at the in-sane spread of yummy delights before your eyes, the Brits have a bicep twitching task to complete before they dig in – crackers. With the help of the person sat next to you, hold one end and pull open your Christmas cracker to reveal a tacky ASF novelty gift, awful dad joke and paper crown to regal up your Xmas outfit.