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    Curiosas Tradições de Natal pelo Mundo

    Every year millions of people around the world celebrate Christmas. And even though the general idea and meaning behind the celebration is similar, the way this celebration is celebrated in different cultures varies dramatically. Here are some of the most bizarre Christmas traditions in the world.

    Czech Republic: The shoe decides

    Czech women perform a simple ritual during the holiday season to determine how successful their love life will be in the coming year. Single women, with their backs to the door, throw a shoe over their shoulder. If the shoe falls off with the toe pointing towards the door, the wedding should take place within a year.

    Austria: Krampus and Perchta, Santa's “helpers”

    In most countries, tradition holds that when children do not behave well, they receive charcoal instead of gifts at Christmas. But that doesn't happen in Austria. Here, Santa Claus is accompanied by two demonic figures who certainly play their part when it comes to punishing misbehaving children. Children are told that if they misbehave they will be put in a sack by Krampus and dragged to hell. And Krampus isn't the meanest. If the kids misbehave, the helper that appears is Perchta. This supposedly will eviscerate the children and replace their bowels with straw. Sweet Dreams!

    Catalonia, Spain: Uncle Christmas

    The Tió de Nadal is a tradition in the Catalan region in which two front legs, a smiling face and a hat are added to a small tree trunk. Every night, from December 8th, the children must “feed” Tió and cover him with a blanket so that he doesn't feel cold during the night. On Christmas Day Tió is placed in front of the fireplace, they sing several Christmas songs and beat him with sticks in order to make him defecate sweets and presents.

    Norway - Hide the brooms

    In Norway, it is believed that on Christmas Eve witches roam the skies along with other rogue spirits. In order to prevent the witches from playing pranks, the families hide all the brooms, thus taking away their means of transport.

    Caracas, Venezuela: Going to Rollerblading Mass

    If you are in the Venezuelan capital on Christmas morning, you will see that the streets will be closed to traffic and that hundreds of people go to mass on roller skates. Sometimes, the night before, children even tie a thread to their toes and leave it hanging outside the window before going to bed. Skaters who pass under these windows the next morning pull the ropes and so the children wake up to watch the show.

    Italy: Befana, the nice witch

    Befana is a lot like Santa Claus, only instead of being a good-natured little old man who flies a sleigh pulled by reindeer, she is a nice witch who flies a broom and delivers candy and other gifts to children during the Christmas party. Epiphany.Holland: Sinterklaas and Zwarte Piet
    Perhaps one of the less politically correct traditions, Zwarte Piet or Pedro Preto (in an Portuguese version), is part of the festivities in Holland and Luxembourg. Originally the figure was presented as a frightening character that was supposed to punish children who misbehaved. Nowadays, the character's dark color is justified as the gray of the chimneys he passes through to leave the presents.

    India: Banana Trees or Christmas Mangoes

    In India, only about 2.3% of the population is Christian, which in this case corresponds to 25 million people! Christians celebrate Christmas with the midnight mass, exchanging gifts like the rest of the world, but since there are no firs or pine trees in the country, they decorate banana trees or mango trees.

    Ukraine: Spider webs on the Christmas tree

    Instead of glittering ornaments and whatnot, Ukrainian Christmas trees are covered with artificial cobwebs. What is the motive behind this eccentric tradition? Legend has it that a poor family went to bed on Christmas Eve very sad because they didn't have the means to decorate their tree. The spiders that roamed the house heard the family's cries and decided to decorate the tree with their webs. On Christmas morning the children were overjoyed to find the tree decorated and when the first light of the morning touched the threads of the web, they turned to gold and silver and the family was never in need again. For this reason, seeing a spider's web on Christmas morning is a sign of good fortune.

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