Christmas traditions around the world can be quite different from what we’re used to at home.

Even though Santa Claus is a global phenomenon, he isn’t always the fellow people go to for their Yuletide desires. Christmas in Scandinavia differs vastly from the Japanese sense of the holiday spirit.

Here are four different corners of the globe where Christmas exists, but is celebrated in a less-than-familiar way. Unless, of course, you happen to hail from one of the countries listed below:


You won’t find a lot of snow Down Under for Santa to land his sleigh on. What you will find are tons of people in bathing suits, since December is the height of a hot and blistering summer in Australia. Carolers, wreaths hung on doors and Christmas trees may abound, but you’ll also come across kangaroos (boomers) rather than reindeer helping Santa out, beach barbecues, and lobsters and prawns served as the main Christmas meal.


Yes, some people celebrate Christmas in Iran—just don’t tell the writers of Showtime’s hit series ‘Homeland’ that. In Iran, Santa Claus is not a superstar (although he can be spotted here and there), and you’d be hard pressed to locate any massive outdoor holiday displays, but even so, you can find quite a few private Christmas trees.

Christians in this massive country celebrate Christmas, known as the “Little Feast,” with some moderate fasting for purification, followed by communion and a sizable meal. While December 25 is an important date, many families gather on January 5 and 6 to celebrate Christmas instead.


How do you have a very Japanese Christmas? Well, you copy a lot of American traditions, and add a bit of love into the mix. Christmas is not an overtly religious holiday in the Land of the Rising Sun. Rather, it’s a time for children’s parties and, on Christmas Eve, a time for couples to spend a romantic evening together. Oddly enough, the traditional Yuletide meal in Japan is Kentucky Fried Chicken. Really, that’s not a joke. Families order their buckets of bird parts well in advance of Christmas in order to beat the holiday rush.


If you dig eating sheep’s head—boiled or deep fried, depending on where you are in Norway—a Scandinavian Christmas just might be for you. Luckily, you’ll only be expected to eat half a sheep’s head (smalahove) when it’s served just before Christmas. If that’s not your thing, you can still indulge in gift giving, or perhaps sing “Musevisa," the Norwegian traditional Christmas mouse song. Come on, everybody sing along!

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