By Caitlin Chodakowsky
A red suited Santa, drinking eggnog and decorated with an array of bizarre themed Christmas ornaments may sound like strange things to do in other parts of the world but the United States are not the only ones with some seemingly odd Christmas traditions.
While we indulge in pumpkin pie and a roast dinner there are some in Greenland feasting on Mattak – raw whale skin served with a side of blubber.
If you don't like the sound of blubber for supper you could try Kiviak, a delicacy made from auk birds stuffed in a seal skin and left to ferment underground for several months. I don't know about you but I'll stick with my pumpkin pie!
In Slovakia the most senior man of the house has the privilege of throwing his pudding at the ceiling to see how much of it sticks. Now that could be an interesting tradition to adopt...
Turkey and ham might be popular for Christmas dinner but thanks to a hugely successful marketing campaign in 1974 many families in Japan still cling to the tradition of eating out at KFC instead.
While many Japanese are feasting on fried chicken, South Korea is the only East Asian nation that even recognizes Christmas as a national holiday. South Korea's largest amusement park called Everland celebrates in style as people flock to see zoo animals parading around in festive costumes.
Instead of tinsel and baubles Ukrainians dress their Christmas trees up traditionally with a fake spider and web, which is said to bring them luck.
In India it is more common to decorate banana or mango trees for Christmas than the traditional fir, pine or spruce tree.
Germans traditionally hide a pickle in their Christmas tree on Christmas Eve for one eager child to find in the morning and exchange for a small gift.
While some children are hunting for pickles, Spain holds its annual Copa Nadal – a Christmas Swimming Cup at the Old Harbor of Barcelona. This 200 meter swim has been running since 1908 with hundreds of festively dressed people jumping into winter water to keep the century old tradition alive.
Meanwhile, roads are closed off in the city of Caracas as Venezuelan residents don their roller skates to journey to church in the lead up to Christmas.
While cultural traditions and festivities seem to be so different from place to place there is one aspect of Christmas that remains the same for millions of people around the world.
Each year these people stop to remember the virgin birth of a baby boy in the small town of Bethlehem more than 2000 years ago.
To some this may seem like the weirdest tradition of all, yet somehow this Child has been engrained in history for longer than any of the above traditions.
Some dismiss this as tradition based on an old wife's tale but have you ever stopped to wonder how a child born in a stable could have made such an impact?
In the Bible, the book of Isaiah predicts about this boy hundreds of years before His birth saying, "For to us a child is born, to us a Son is given, and the government will be on His shoulders. And He will be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace" (see chapter 9 verse 6).
Across cultures and generations people celebrate the difference this Son – Jesus Christ – has made in their lives as He fulfilled and continues to fulfil the above prophecy, offering us love, forgiveness and a way to connect with God on a personal level.
Challenge newspaper exists to share the personal stories of people who have seen the impact Jesus can have on their lives firsthand.
Rather than dismiss Jesus as a quirky Christmas tradition this year, perhaps it is worth considering the difference He could make in your life too?•