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Here in the United Kingdom, Christmas Eve is a time for cosying up with a hot drink in front of a roaring fire, carolling, decking the halls and generally getting excited for the big day ahead. In other countries however, there are certain Christmas Eve traditions that don’t exactly tie in with our own. Weird and wonderful in equal measures, you’d be amazed as to what millions of people all over the world are getting up to while you’re adding those final baubles to the tree!
For example, the City of Remedios in Cuba celebrates Christmas Eve with a centuries-old carnival, which sees thousands take to the streets to quite frankly make as much noise as possible. It all stems back to a Christmas Eve 200 years ago when a priest sent altar boys out into to city to loudly bang pans and pots all night, to make sure everyone was awake for midnight mass!
Krampus and Perchta
In various Alpine regions, Krampus exists as the terrifyingly menacing counterpart to Santa. Over here, kids know that if they’re naughty, they’ll find a lump of coal in their stocking. Over there, it’s decidedly more worrying – Krampus is said to take naughty children straight to hell while Perchta…well, we’d rather not say – feel free to look her up if you dare!
Just to prove that all witches aren’t as scary as you might think, the friendly witch known as “La Befana” takes a stroll through various villages in Italy during the epiphany, giving gifts to kids as she goes.
Skating to Church
How to make midnight mass more interesting for everyone? In Caracas, there’s an annual tradition where the roads are closed off to allow thousands of people to done roller-skaters and make their merry way to the ceremony.
Over in Germany, the very last decoration to make it onto the Christmas tree is a glass pickle. According to the tradition, the pickle is hidden deep inside the branches and foliage – the first child to find it on Christmas morning being rewarded with an extra present!
Last but not least, Christmas trees in Ukraine are often decorated on Christmas Eve with spider webs. Legend tells of a poor mother who was unable to afford any decorations, only to wake up on Christmas Day to find that a bunch of friendly spiders had decorated her tree beautifully with their webs!