Christmas Traditions Around the World

Last updated on 09/21/2021

Unique Christmas Traditions from Around the World

Traveling during the holiday season is a joy for many people, but not everyone is able to get away during the holidays. With family commitments and increased traffic, many travelers are unable to pack their bags. To help bring the joy and excitement of holiday travel to your home, the team at InsureMyTrip has collected some of our favorite holiday traditions from around the world. We invite you to try something new this holiday season and experience these unique traditions from around the world – without even leaving home!

South Africa: Deep-Fried Caterpillar

In South Africa, the locals have a feast like no other. They deep-fry the caterpillar of the Emperor Moth as part of their Christmas feast. While this particular tradition may be best attempted by the more adventurous eaters in your family, you may consider an imitation version as part of your holiday feast.

Deep-Fried Caterpillar in South Africa

Germany: The Christmas Pickle (Weihnachtsgurke)

In Germany it is a tradition for parents to hide a pickle somewhere on their evergreen Christmas tree on Christmas Eve. The first child to find the pickle gets a special gift on Christmas Day. The question is...dill or gerkin?

Weihnachtsgurke Christmas Pickle in Germany

New Zealand: Decorating the Potuhukawa Tree

Are you tired of the traditional fir Christmas tree? Perhaps you should celebrate this year like the people of New Zealand - they decorate a Potuhukawa tree, which is a coastal evergreen tree in the myrtle family that produces a brilliant display of red flowers.

Ukraine: Legend of the Christmas Spider

If the traditions we have shared so far are a little too tame for you and you really want to try something different this year, grab your Halloween decorations from the attic. In the Ukraine the citizens traditionally decorate their trees with an artificial spider and its web. The folktale surrounds an impoverished widow's children who discover a pine cone on the dirt floor of their home during the summer. The children cared for the budding sapling in hopes of growing a Christmas Tree come winter. The tree grew successfully but the family was unable to afford any decorations on Christmas Eve. Christmas morning they awoke to discover a spider has decorated the tree for them with its beautiful webs, which glistened with gold and silver in the rising sunlight. The family was overjoyed and no longer lives in poverty. With such a positive association, it’s not surprising that spider web decorations are considered good luck and frequently adorn holiday trees in the region.

Legend of the Christmas Spider in Ukraine

Czech Republic: The Foretelling Shoe

In the Czech Republic, they practice a tradition in which an unmarried woman stands at an open door and throws a shoe over her shoulder. If the shoe is pointing toward the door when it lands, the belief is that she will get married in the next year. Who needs to wait until wedding season to catch the bouquet?

Iceland: The 13 Days of Christmas (Shoes)

Iceland has an interesting twist on the Twelve Days of Christmas. The Icelandic children leave their shoes on a windowsill for the 13 days before Christmas. Every night, a "Yule lad" travels down from the mountains to leave gifts and sweets in them for the good children. If the child is bad, the Yule lad leaves a raw potato instead.

Slovakia: Christmas Food Fight

There is nothing better - or most unexpected for many American - than a good ol’ fashioned holiday food fight. In Slovakia, this idea is taken to new heights – literally. In this tradition, the most senior male of the household throws a wooden spoonful of loksa pudding (similar to a bread pudding) at the ceiling. The more that sticks, the better the luck for the family will have in the coming year.

Traditional Christmas Pudding

Great Britain: Old-Fashioned Christmas Pudding

In Great Britain, they are more reserved with their Christmas pudding. The tradition says that each member of the family must stir the Christmas pudding in a clockwise motion, prior to it being cooked, while making a wish.