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We recently shared some of the most popular Catholic Christmas traditions in Europe. While many incorporated the faith, others embodied all the wonders of the Christmas spirit.
However, as with many festivities, a few traditions have crept in that have no religious connotations, but are nonetheless key to some of these countries’ Christmas celebrations.
Take a look below to see some of Europe’s whimsical and peculiar Christmas traditions that add a touch of light-heartedness to the holiday season.
Krampus night, Austria and Germany
On the evening of December 5, Krampus, a fantastical creature with horns and fur, engages in a comical pursuit alongside St. Nicholas, playfully punishing those on the naughty list.
Throwing shoes, Czech Republic
Single Czech women stand with their backs to the door on Christmas Eve and throw a shoe over their shoulder. If the toe points towards the door, they will get married soon.
Icelandic yule cat
The Yule Cat in Iceland is a feline with a peculiar appetite for those without new clothes. Although a fantastical tale, it adds a whimsical layer to the season’s festivities.
Hide the brooms, Norway
Norwegians traditionally hide their brooms on Christmas Eve to prevent mischievous witches and spirits from stealing them for a joyride.
Great Christmas Pudding Race, London
London hosts an annual charity event where participants don quirky costumes and navigate obstacle courses while balancing Christmas puddings. It’s a delightfully amusing way to raise funds during the holiday season.
Gävle goat, Sweden
The giant Gävle Goat in Sweden is an annual spectacle, attracting attention as locals playfully attempt to protect it from being “accidentally” set ablaze before Christmas.
Animal communication, Romania
On Christmas night, Romanian farmers believe that animals gain the ability to speak. People listen for their conversations in hopes of gaining insight into the coming year.
Belgian Cat Parade
Ypres, Belgium, hosts a delightful Cat Parade on Christmas Eve, where participants don cat-themed costumes, bringing a whimsical and light-hearted atmosphere to the holiday festivities.
Mexican Night of the Radishes (European Influences)
The Night of the Radishes in Oaxaca, Mexico, showcases intricate radish carvings depicting festive scenes, blending European influences with Mexican creativity in a charming and unexpected display.
Yule Lads, Iceland
Iceland’s Yule Lads, a group of mischievous characters, embark on a 13-night journey before Christmas, each with a playful personality that adds a touch of fun and folklore to the season.