Travel

4 of the most bizarre and touching Christmas traditions in Europe

Christmas, whilst being an exceedingly magical time, can also unleash our weird sides. That also applies to some countries, with some boasting some really peculiar traditions that, unless you’ve been brought up with them, might not make a whole lot of sense.

But isn’t that the best part of Christmas in the first place? We all have our strange family traditions which make the day so special and personal. The same goes for some countries. So, if you want to see something really unique this Christmas, here are some destinations you absolutely have to visit.

Lithuania

If you love the adventures of Kevin McCallister and his highly disorganised family, then Lithuania is the place for you. We all love Home Alone, but Lithuania goes above and beyond with repeat showings of the hit film on TV throughout the Christmas period. Christmas simply isn’t Christmas without this movie!

And if you’re planning on a little detox over the festive period, Lithuania is a good shout too. It’s custom there not to eat meat nor drink alcohol on Christmas Eve. Instead, Lithuanians attempt to try twelve different dishes during Christmas Eve dinner. Vegetarian, of course!

Italy

An Italy tour over Christmas isn’t complete without the witch La Befana. This gruesome femme fatal is the person kids most look forward to seeing on Christmas eve. Legends have it that La Befana visits every house in Italy on her broom to look for baby Jesus. 

On her way, she’s partial to dropping off a few gifts to all the kids in the country. A refreshing take on one of the most feared fictional figures, witches aren’t scary in Italy – Italians welcome them with open arms!

Portugal

Why have one Santa when you can have three wise old men? In Portugal, the traditional jolly Santa is actually replaced by the Three Wise Men from the Bible. And instead of writing their Christmas letters to Santa, kids address them to baby Jesus. 

A devoutly Catholic country, Portuguese households also leave a seat free at Christmas dinner as a gesture to welcome spirits and relatives who have passed away to enjoy the festive season with them. 

Norway

Perhaps one of few countries who can always guarantee a white Christmas and have real-life reindeer roaming the countryside, it’s hard to beat this Scandinavian jewel when it comes to the festive period. But they also have their fair share of strange traditions!

Instead of the traditional goose or turkey we know in the UK, in Norway it’s custom to eat a sheep’s head for Christmas dinner. That’s a real sheep’s head – not something amusing made of chocolate. Christmases in Norway only are for those with strong stomachs!

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