November 26, 2018 1:00 am
Updated: November 26, 2018 11:27 am

6 of the most interesting holiday traditions from around the world

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One of the most popular holiday traditions in Canada actually has its roots in Germany. The Christmas tree was the main prop in a popular play about Adam and Eve.

Germans would set up their own versions of the “paradise tree” in their homes and decorate it with symbols representing Christ to celebrate the religious feast day of Adam and Eve, which falls on Dec. 24.

German settlers brought the tradition to North American homes in 17th century and it became widely popular in the 19th century.

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Julia Dywelski, the director of marketing for the German national tourist office in Canada, says many of Canada’s Christmas traditions actually trace back to Germany.

“In Canada, there are a lot of people who have German roots and their ancestors brought some of the German Christmas traditions with them like the Christmas wreath… and children opening their advent calendars every day,” she says.

Every year, millions of Canadians decorate a Christmas tree (real or fake) with tinsel and ornaments, making it a fixture of the season.

But around the world there are different customs backed by similarly interesting stories. In partnership with Magnum Cream Liqueur, we take a look at some of the most popular.

Mexico: Carve some radishes

The radish has become the centre of attention for Christmas celebrations of Oaxaca, Mexico.

More than a century ago, local vendors began carving their radishes with intricate shapes to attract customers in the town plaza.

Over time, the tradition evolved into a wildly-popular carving competition that takes places every Dec. 23 known as the Night of the Radishes.

Greenland: Prepare the Kiviak

If you think it takes a long time to cook a Christmas turkey, then you’ve never made Kiviak. It’s a winter dish from Greenland that takes a minimum of three months to prepare.

To make the dish, as many as 400 little auks, a type of Arctic bird, are placed, feathers and all, into a seal skin and then buried under heavy stones for three months and left to ferment.

The process tenderizes and preserves the meat, allowing people to eat the bird raw – bones and all. Many eat Kiviak by biting off the bird’s head and sucking out the juices that reportedly taste like matured cheese.

Japan: Eat American fast food

Thanks to a wildly successful marketing campaign in the 1970s, eating Kentucky Fried Chicken on Christmas has become a tradition for the people of Japan.

“It filled a void,” Joonas Rokka, an associate professor of marketing at Emylon Business School in France, told BBC News.

“There was no tradition of Christmas in Japan, and so KFC came in and said, this is what you should do on Christmas.”

It’s so popular, that people actually place their orders weeks in advance.

Venezuela: Roller skate to church

Christmas celebrations in Venezuela start on Dec. 16 with a series of daily masses known as misas de aguinaldo that run until Dec. 24.

What’s unusual is that in the capital of Caracas, it has become a tradition for families to roller skate to church each day.

No one really knows when or why the practice began, but it has become so popular that the government closes the streets in the morning so that churchgoers glide in safety.

Austria: Scare the kids

In Austria and other central European countries, Saint Nicholas still rewards kids who have been good. The twist is his terrifying half-goat, half-demon companion, known as Krampus, who deals with those who’ve been bad.

On Krampusnacht, Dec. 5, people dressed in Krampus costumes appear on the street for a bit of partying and to scare the kids straight. Legend has it that Krampus would swat misbehaved children and take them to his lair.

Czech Republic: Cut an apple
In Czech Republic, there are numerous Christmas traditions and superstitions aimed at predicting what the future will bring. One that’s still commonly practiced is to cut an apple crosswise and look at the pattern of the seeds in the core.

If the core is shaped like a star, it predicts a year of health and happiness. If the pattern displayed is a four-point cross, it means someone at the table will get ill or die within the year.

No matter where you are in Canada, make sure Magnum Cream Liqueur is the centrepiece of your holiday celebration. This award-winning scotch malt whisky cream liqueur is the perfect host gift and a premium bar cart staple. Sipping it at a holiday party will surely become a tradition that will last for decades to come.

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