Here in England, we’re very much used to the status quo when it comes to our Yuletide festivities – roast turkey and veg, Father Christmas in his jolly red and white suit and nativity plays are all traditions so beloved that it’s nigh on impossible to imagine the festive season without them. Yet around the globe, the season of goodwill is celebrated in all sorts of other wonderful (and occasionally weird) ways. Let’s take a quick world tour to find out more.
Those with a sweet tooth may want to head to the Provence region for Christmas this year –it is traditional to serve 13 desserts, representing Jesus and his 12 apostles at the Last Supper, as the finale of the Christmas Eve meal, and all guests must try a piece of each sweet treat. We can certainly get on board with this one.
Spain is only a two-hour flight away, but my oh my is there something strange afoot in Catalonia – the Tió de Nadal, to be precise. In Catalonia, this anthropomorphic log is stuffed full of nuts and sweets and covered with a blanket throughout December, before being cast into a fireplace on Christmas Day or beaten with a stick to encourage it to, erm, release its treats.
Turkey is a rare meat to find in Japan as it’s not bred and reared widely in the country, so sourcing or importing it can be costly. Enter KFC, who, thanks to a successful marketing campaign in the 1970s featuring the slogan ‘Kentucky for Christmas’, are now a big supplier of the festive feast in Japan. It’s even necessary to pre-order your bucket of poultry many weeks in advance, just as we might a turkey at Waitrose.
Those lucky enough to live Down Under spend the festive season enjoying the excellent summer weather while we Brits are huddled inside wearing our novelty jumpers. Thus, the Christmas dinner in Australia is often cooked on the barbecue and served up on the beach. Sometimes Santa will make a grand entrance by surfing to shore, too.
In Mexico, the Night of the Radishes takes place on Christmas Eve Eve (otherwise known as 23rd December) and attracts an enormous number of visitors and tourists. Artists carve ornate and intricate scenes and models with radishes and other root veg and display them prominently in the central plaza in Oaxaca.