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Christmas is all about fun. Decorating yard and Christmas tree, preparing delicious treats and singing carols – those activities create a festive atmosphere and bring back pleasant memories. But this holiday wasn’t always been like that. People have been changing its traditions and customs through the centuries. What customs were left behind? Find out what odd Christmas traditions around the world are no more followed in this article.

1. Yule log burning

This tradition is initially Nordic, but in medieval times, Yule log burning was widespread throughout the Europe. Many centuries, Europeans celebrated Winter Solstice days. They honored God who gave them light in the darkest period of the year.

Yule Log was a tree that was chopped down and brought into dwellings. The stem of yule log was set on fire, which meant the start of the celebration. The remains of the tree were stored to be burned next year. This custom wasn’t so safe for houses, thus some people brought twigs, instead of tree.

2. Thomasing

This custom is connected with St. Thomas’ Day, which was celebrated on 21 December. On this day, low-income families knocked on the doors of rich ones and begged for food or money. You may think those beggars were shameless. But, there was no shame in asking for some food on St. Thomas’ Day. The well-off households were happy to share their food with the poor.

Over the years, this tradition was replaced by caroling.  Nowadays, kids head to sing carols and get sweets or money from homeowners.

3. Kissing bough

First Christmas trees appeared in the middle of 19th century. Before that time, people used to have kissing bough. Decorated with greenery and apples, candle-lit kissing bough was hung from ceilings.

In the North of England, people hang small presents on long streamers of colored ribbons. This was one of the popular Christmas gift giving traditions of that times. Now kissing bough is replaced by mistletoe.

4. Meat Shows

Back in 18th century, the event was held before Christmas Eve. All the local butchers gathered to sell their best goods. They organized annual meat show, where they displayed beef, mutton, and veal at the various stalls. There were judges who gave awards to butchers who presented meat of superior quality. Local people bought fresh meat to prepare for the holiday.

5. Ghost Stories

Nowadays, ghost stories are associated with Halloween. But in the middle of 19th-century people entertained each other telling ghost stories on Christmas Eve. Not surprisingly, the full name of Charles Dickens’ famous novel written in 1843 is “A Christmas carol in prose, being a ghost story of Christmas”! Ghosts thought to be lost souls that awaken to visit their families and friends.

6. Krampus

This creature of Germanic origin used to scare the hell out of children! The “Christmas demon” with horns and fangs came with a chain and bells to whip children. Then, the creature collected children in his bag and took them to Hell.

Krampus was the enemy of St. Nicolas, who rewarded kids for being nice the whole year. On the contrary, Krampus dealt with naughty kids.

Krampus appeared on 6 December, on the day of St. Nicholas Day. Many people now arrange Krampus parties. There are also movies about this pagan creature. 

7. Puddings

All the adults and kids love treats. Thus, there aren’t a lot of Christmas food traditions from around the world that are left behind. But, Christmas puddings we know, aren’t what they were originally like.

First Christmas puddings were prepared in the 15th century. But the tradition of preparing pudding to celebrate the birth of Jesus was widely popular in the 18th century in England. The pudding was made with 13 ingredients to represent Jesus and His Disciples and contained a silver coin, which was the symbol of good luck.

Originally, puddings were made of beef and mutton with spices, raisins, and wines. This dish was similar to soup. In 1714, when King George I tasted Plum pudding and liked it very much, the dish became traditional Christmas treat.


BIO: Helen Birk is a freelance writer, who works for EduBirdie. Helen is an experienced specialist and inspiring personality. She is interested in history and loves discovering exciting facts and stories. Winter holidays are Helen’s favorite time of the year. She is very creative at baking muffins and bringing back ancient customs.