We all have our special Christmas traditions to celebrate the holiday and spending time with our family and friends - but some countries seem to have very interesting traditions - terrifying even!
FINLAND - VISIT A CEMETERY
In Finland, the family is very likely to take a trip to a cemetery. The purpose is to light candles in remembrance of deceased relatives. Many graveyards have a special place where candles can be placed in honour of people buried elsewhere.
In Helsinki, around 75% of families visit a cemetery at Christmas time, usually on Christmas Eve, and yes this does cause traffic chaos.
Photo: © Jef Maion / Alamy
SWEDEN: THE GÄVLE GOAT
The Gävle Goat (Swedish: Gävlebocken) is a traditional Christmas display erected annually at Slottstorget (Castle Square) in central Gävle, Sweden. This giant version of the traditional Swedish Yule goat is made by the local community from straw at the beginning of the Advent and takes two days to erect.
The goat first appeared in 1966 and is famous for being destroyed in arson attacks during December. The local community have tried various security measures to protect the straw goat. As of December 2017 the goat has been damaged 37 times and rarely survives the Christmas season.
Photo: © Robert Matton AB / Alamy
ICELAND: JÓLAKÖTTURINN, THE CHRISTMAS CAT
According to Icelandic tradition, new clothes and especially socks will save children from being eaten by the Yule Cat or Jólakötturinn. The cat is a monster from folklore and generally depicted as being older and gigantic.
The story goes that Jólakötturinn visits houses on Christmas night to see which children have been good enough to receive new clothes and socks. For those unfortunate children who were not good enough during the year to get such a gift, Jólakötturinn will eat their dinner and then the children themselves.
Like many Christmas celebrating counties in Austria all children who have been good can expect to get treats and presents from Santa Claus. But if you are on Santa's naughty list Santa doesn't visit, his evil twin Krampus does.
Krampus is nothing like Santa, he is a hairy goat beast with horns and a pointy tongue. He abducts the naughty children and hurls them into the pits of hell, but he beats them with sticks and chains first.
Just when you thought the northern hemisphere had some particularly interesting traditions and legends let's move south.
VENEZUELA: ROLLER SKATE TO MASS
Christmas day and the days before in Caracas, Venezuela the roads are closed to traffic to allow people to roller stake to early morning mass. Legend says that children go to bed with string tied to their toes and dangled out their windows so when the morning skaters pass they can tug the strings so the children know it's time to get up and ready for mass.
With an estimated 70% of the population Catholic, the rush to mass could otherwise cause traffic chaos. It is unclear where the tradition started but obviously roller skates are far more practical for the southern hemisphere than ice skates.
Leading up to another Christmas we should all celebrate our whatever our traditions are with our family and friends. Merry Christmas.