1. In parts of Spain, Portugal and Italy it is traditional to display a model village of Bethlehem, with Mary, Joseph, Baby Jesus and a Caganer, or ‘shitter’ in English.. The name “El Caganer” literally means “the crapper” or “the shitter”…! Traditionally, the figurine is depicted as a peasant, wearing the traditional Catalan red cap (the Barretina) and with his trousers down, showing a bare backside, and defecating. How festive!
2. In Italy children are visited by the kindly witch, Befana who delivers presents on Christmas Eve in a similar way to Santa Claus. According to Italian folklore Befana leaves candy and presents if the children have been good and coal if they have been bad. It is also said that she sweeps the house with her broom before flying away!
3. For over 40 years the town of Galve in Sweden has erected a giant Straw goat to mark the beginning of the festive season! The goat is a Scandinavian symbol of Christmas that predates Santa Claus and is meant to represent Christmas spirit in the area, however each year vandals do everything they can to burn it down and it has only actually survived until Christmas day 10 times!
4. During “consoda”, the traditional Christmas feast in Portugal, families will sometimes set extra places at the dining table for deceased relatives. It is thought that the practice will ensure good fortunes for the household!
5. In Slovakia, at the beginning of Christmas dinner, the head of the table will throw a spoonful of Loksa (a traditional Christmas dish made of bread, poppy seed filling and water) at the ceiling. The more mixture that sticks to the ceiling the richer his crops will be the following year!
6. In the Venezuelan capital, Caracas it is tradition on Christmas eve to shut off all the roads so locals can rollerskate to early morning mass!
7. In Japan KFC is considered a traditional Christmas dinner by many people. It is so popular and well marketed that you even need to book to get a table on the day.
8. Norwegians believe that Christmas Eve coincides with the arrival of evil spirits when witches would fly down to steal their brooms. Therefore all brooms all hidden on Christmas eve and the men fire shotguns to scare the witches away.
9. In Russia and Ukraine Christmas is celebrated on the 7th of December rather than the 25th as in most other countries. This is because the Russian Orthodox Church still lives according to the old Julian Calendar, which is currently 13 days behind the Gregorian Calendar (which is adopted by most countries in the world)
10. In the Czech Republic single women perform an unusual ritual on Christmas eve to determine how successful their love life will be during the following year. With their back to the front door the women throw a shoe over their shoulder and if it lands with the toe pointing towards the door she will be married soon.
11. Locals that are dressed up as Father Christmas jump into the Mediterranean sea as they take part in the Copa Nadal in the Spanish port of Barcelona. The Copa Nadal (which translates to the Christmas Cup) is a traditional swimming competition that takes place in Barcelona every Christmas day where participants swim 200 meters in the open sea in the port of Barcelona.