the runing of santas

The Strangest Christmas Food Traditions Around The World

Religion aside, Christmas for most involves eating a lot of food and opening presents. We have, however, come across some intriguing traditions from around the world. Here are our favourites.


South Africa


© CC BY-SA 2.0 ‘Fried caterpillar and dragonfly’ by KentWang

A traditional Christmas delicacy for South Africans is to snack on deep fried caterpillars from the Emperor moth. While we’d prefer not to swap our mince pies with this just yet, eating insects is becoming increasingly popular thanks to the discovery of their nutritional value, as well as the brilliant concoctions of Michelin-starred restaurants like Pujol and Noma.




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We have already mentioned this odd tradition in a previous article, but we thought we’d remind you of it. Christmas isn’t an official holiday in Japan, as there are very few Christians in the country. KFC saw a marketing opportunity and threw their biggest advertising campaign in 1974, calling December 24th Kurisumasu ni wa Kentakkii, or Kentucky for Christmas. 

Since then, people in Japan have been queuing for fried chicken on Christmas Eve.




© CC BY-SA 2.0 ‘The coders way of cutting mattak’by Risager

If you’re feeling adventurous, you should definitely spend your next Christmas in Greenland. 

They have a couple of unusual foods eaten during Christmas time – like ‘Mattak’, which is whale skin with a strip of blubber inside. Word on the Internet says that it tastes like coconut but we find it hard to believe. 

Another Christmas food is ‘kiviak’: raw flesh of little auks (a type of arctic bird), which have been buried whole in sealskin for several months until they have reached an advanced stage of decomposition! Yummm…. Christmas magic.



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Even though this isn’t a very popular tradition in Germany, some do like to hide a pickle in their Christmas tree and the first kid who finds it gets a gift. We’re not quite sure where it comes from, but apparently it’s been around since the 1880’s. 

Since then, the American city of Berrien Springs in Missouri (a state that started being inhabited by Germans mostly) is also known as the Christmas Pickle Capital of the World and has an annual pickle festival held during the early part of December.




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On Christmas Day, the Portuguese prepare a gigantic feast, also known as Consoda. They set extra plates at the table for alminhas a penar (“the souls of the dead”). This is a time for remembering the dead and they also sometimes leave crumbs on the table for their late loved ones.




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The Sweds serve Risgrynsgröt, for Christmas pudding, which means rice grains porridge. They serve it covered with cinnamon powder and with a single almond hidden inside. The person who gets the almond doesn’t become King but gets a task. 

In the old days, if a single young man or woman found the almond, it was a sign that the coming year would bring them true love.


Great Britain


Photo credit: BBC Good Food

Stir-up Sunday is the last Sunday before Christmas, where families get together to make Christmas pudding. Parents teach their children how to mix ingredients and everyone takes a turn to stir. Everyone involved can make a wish for the year ahead and has to stir from East to West in honour of the Three Kings who visited Baby Jesus. Stirring the mixture is really hard work, so the more the merrier!  





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A typical Christmas dish in Slovakia is Lokše, a potato dough pancake. The tradition wants the most senior man of the family to through a spoonful of potato dough onto the ceiling. The more it sticks, the better it is!




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Christmas is all about sharing some good moments with your close ones. Americans have therefore created a rather new tradition: the Running of the Santas tradition, which they call the naughtiest pub crawl. 

A large group of people dress up as Santa and go around from bar to bar, to get wasted. Cheers!


For anyone interested here is their official website.

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