For many, Christmas Eve is a time to furiously wrap presents, drink some egg nog, and prep a bit for the following day’s feast. It may be a time for Christmas parties or casual gatherings, or it may be a chill, solo night. Midnight Mass is a well-known event. But there are plenty of cultural traditions you may not know that range from sweet to just plain weird. Here are the top 10 unusual Christmas Eve traditions from around the world.
10. Predicting Romance
In the Czech Republic, if you’re a single woman, Christmas Eve is your chance to foretell your love life for the coming year. Single women stand with their backs to the door and throw a shoe over their shoulder. If the shoe’s toe points towards the door they’ll get married in the coming year. If not…better luck next year.
9. Waiting for the Spider
In the Ukraine it’s considered good luck if a spider appears on your Christmas tree. This stems from a folk tale about an old woman too poor to afford ornaments, who found that spiders had inhabited her tree overnight and decorated its branches with their webs. If you wake to a spider on your tree on Christmas morning you’ll be blessed with good fortune.
8. Hide the Pickle
In Germany, pickle ornaments are a time-honored tradition. The final ornament to grace German Christmas trees is a glass pickle, which is secreted away. The ornament is hidden last minute and on Christmas morning, it’s hunted down by the family. Whoever finds the pickle will have good luck for the coming year, and receives an extra gift.
7. Slop the Ceiling
In Slovakia, a sloppy ceiling on Christmas Eve is a boon to farming. People throw a lump of bread, water, and poppy seeds, called Loksa, onto the ceiling. If the Loksa sticks, crops will be bountiful in the following year.
6. Hide the Broom
In Norway, old traditional belief had it that witches steal brooms on Christmas Eve, and ride around in the sky. So Norwegians would tuck safely away their brooms and mops before sleep.
5. Roller Skating to Church
In Caracas, Venezuela, it’s not uncommon for streets to be blocked off on Christmas Eve to allow churchgoers to access their churches by roller skates. Presumably they could also walk, but it’s not as swift a method!
4. Stir the Pudding
While not strictly a Christmas Eve tradition, it certainly can be for those in Great Britain who make their Christmas puddings the night before the Christmas meal. Britons make a wish while stirring the pudding ingredients clockwise, to ensure their wish will come true.
3. The Poop Log
In Catalan custom in Spain, a hollowed out log with legs and a painted face added is “fed” candies, foodstuffs, and other treasures over the course of the month of December. On Christmas Eve or Christmas, the log is placed in the fireplace and beaten with a stick until all the “food” comes out – essentially pooping. Traditionally, the final object to drop from the log is an onion, salted herring, or garlic bulb.
2. Tossing Yarn
If you throw a ball of yarn into the air on Christmas Eve, you’ll see the face of your future husband. Another tradition for single women, when the yarn hits the ground and scatters, the pattern will supposedly resemble a male human face.
1. Ghostly Haunting
Some believe that those born on Christmas Eve turn into ghosts while sleeping on the night of their birthday. To prevent turning into a ghost, the birthday girl or boy must count the multitude of holes in a sieve from 11 o’clock on Christmas Eve until Christmas morning. What the sleep-deprived Christmas Eve babies lack in energy for the Christmas celebrations they’ll make up for in, well, not haunting their family and friends the night before.