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Every now and then we come across Christmas traditions honored by friends or family that are different from our own. Maybe your neighbor Johnny makes his whole family wait until 3 pm to open presents, or friend Nancy goes a little crazy with elf on the shelf and Instagram every year. But what about the really odd traditions? The ones that make you do a double-take.

This year, to kick-off the holiday season, we’ve compiled a list of the most bizarre yuletide traditions from far and wide.


Ukraine: Tree Spider Webs

In Ukraine, thanks to an old wives’ tale, spider webs are a most popular tree decoration. Legend has it that a poor widow and her children grew a Christmas tree from a single pine cone, but had no means to decorate it. On Christmas Eve, house spiders heard the children crying and began decorating the tree themselves. The family was thrilled to wake up to a shimmering tree delicately decorated with webs.


India: Banana and Mango Trees

A small proportion of people celebrate Christmas in India, but those that do observe a quirky tradition. Like in many Western regions, Christmas day is celebrated with a midnight mass and present giving, but instead of decorating fir trees (there aren’t any) they use banana or mango trees instead.


Italy: La Befana

In Italy, Santa Claus isn’t the only flying present-giver in town. Enter La Befana – a witch who rides a broom and delivers treats to children on the eve of Epiphany Day. Hey, the more the merrier!


Iceland: The Yule Cat

Watch out. The Yule Cat is an Icelandic Christmas character that eats children who haven’t worked hard enough. Scary as she is, you can avoid being eaten by getting all your work done before Christmas and updating your wardrobe. It’s said the Yule Cat only goes after lazy children in old clothes.


Germany: Krampus

Another popular child-punishing Christmas Character is Krampus. In German folklore, this half goat half daemon was created to scare children into being good. All. Year. Long. Well behaved children, of course, have nothing to worry about. But, come December 6th, if you’ve been bad, Krampus is going to get you with his sharp claws and weird pointy tongue.


The United States and Europe: Elf on the Shelf

It may seem cute and commonplace, but elf on the shelf is actually pretty creepy. Meant to trick children into believing their elf doll comes alive at night and gets into mischief – oh and is actually watching them – the elf on the shelf appeals to the inner child in us all. If only he could actually babysit.


We hope you enjoyed these very quirky holiday traditions celebrated by millions across the globe. Harry’s is open seasonally May through October and some weekends in November. We look forward to welcoming you in 2020 and wish you a very happy holiday season!

Holiday traditions courtesy in part from the Independent and SFGate, and The Travel.