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10 Christmas Traditions from around the World

In Russia and Ukraine, Christmas is celebrated on the 7th of January and not the 25th of December like in most other countries. This unusual date is because the Orthodox Church uses the old Julian calendar for religious celebration days. In the traditional Russian Christmas special prayers are said and people fast sometimes for 39 days until January 6th (Christmas Eve) when the first evening star in appears in the sky. Then it begins a twelve course supper in honor of each of the twelve apostles. In Ireland, it is traditional to leave mince pies and a bottle of Guinness out as a snack for Santa. In the Czech Republic, single women perform a very unusual ritual on Christmas Eve Day to find out if they will marry in the following year. With their backs to the house door, they throw one of their shoes over their shoulder. If the shoe lands with the heel towards the door she will definitely stay single for another year while if the front of the shoe points towards the door it means she will move out of her parents house and she should start making wedding preparations. For over 40 years the town of Gavle in Sweden has erected a giant Goat made of straw to mark the beginning of the holiday season. Every year vandals do everything they can to burn down the goat before Christmas Day. Since 1966, the straw Goat has survived until Christmas Day only 10 times. People disguise themselves as Santa Claus or elves to get past the guardians and ignite the straw monument. In Caracas, the capital of Venezuela, on Christmas Eve morning the roads of the city are closed to cars, so people can roller skate to Mass. According to Norwegian ancient belief, witches and evil spirits would emerge on Christmas Eve to steal brooms to ride the skies. Thus, on Christmas Eve, all the brooms

and similar cleaning implements are hidden and men would fire their shotguns outside their houses to frighten these witches away. People of the Netherlands, who celebrate the holiday on December 6th, await the arrival of Sinterklaas and his sidekick Black Pete, who come by way of steamer to leave candy and nuts for good little boys and girls who have filled their shoes with hay and sugar for his horse. For many people in Japan, traditional Christmas dinner is Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC). It is so popular and well marketed that you would have to make a reservation to eat at a KFC on Christmas in the country. In Greenland, rather than the more traditional Christmas food like turkey, ham with cranberry sauce, meat pies, sucking pig, Christmas pudding, people like kiviak which consists of raw flesh of an auk wrapped in seal skin and placed under a rock for several months until it is well into decomposition. It is the order of the day. It is a treat that most Greenland natives consider delicious. Mattak which is whale skin with a strip of blubber inside is also served to everyone during their celebrations. In Slovakia, at the beginning of Christmas Eve dinner, the head of the family takes a spoon of Loksa (a traditional Christmas dish made out of bread, poppy seed filling and water and throws it up at the ceiling. The more mixture that remains glued on the ceiling the richer his crops will be the following year.