Test your knowledge of Christmas traditions

Ruth Griffiths

Christmas is a Christian holy day, but it has become a secular celebration for many cultures around the world. Test your knowledge of these unusual Christmas traditions.

  1. In Austria, a ghoulish creature wanders the streets in search of badly behaved children. What is the name of this devilish character?
  2. In which country do spider web ornaments decorate Christmas trees?
  3. In which country is KFC a special Christmas Eve meal?
  4. The Christmas tree tradition started in Germany in the 16th Century. What do parents hide amid the tree branches for children to find?
  5. In Finland, family members observe a solemn ritual on Christmas Eve to honour their ancestors. What do they do?
  6. In what country do children leave their shoes by the fireplace before Christmas?
  7. Who brings treats to children on Jan. 5 in Italy?
  8. What locally harvested insect is eaten at Christmas in South Africa?
  9. Krampus … a legendary horned beast. Masked people wearing furs roam the streets, scaring children.
  10. In Ukraine spider webs are good luck. A folktale tells of a widow who could not afford to decorate a tree for her children. A spider spun beautiful webs all over the tree, which the children awoke to find on Christmas morning.
  11. Japan …where Christmas isn’t a national holiday but families celebrate with takeout chicken.
  12. A cucumber pickle.
  13. On Christmas Eve, it is customary to take a long and respectful stint in the sauna before heading out to evening celebrations.
  14. In the Netherlands children hope Sinterklaas will place treats in their shoes. The children leave carrots for his horse.
  15. According to folklore, an old woman named Belfana visits all the children of Italy on Epiphany Eve to fill their stockings with candy and leave them presents if they’ve been good. Just like Santa Claus, Belfana enters through the chimney. The children leave her wine and local delicacies.
  16. Fried caterpillars are enjoyed during the holiday season. The Pine Tree Emperor Moth, or Christmas caterpillar, is a good source of protein. All who eat them receive luck in the coming year.