If you've ever made a popcorn garland for your Christmas tree and thought to yourself, "Huh. This is a pretty weird tradition," you're not alone. But truthfully, popcorn on trees (which is inherently American thanks to our native peoples) is very clever: The old-school snack is super-cheap, easy to string, and simulates snow. So if you really think about it, popcorn garlands are actually the opposite of weird — at least in comparison to other nations' traditions.
We've rounded up some of the strangest Christmas tree decorations from around the world, just in case you'd like to bring some outside culture into your Christmas — or just ponder its strangeness to your American sensibilities.
Ukraine: Sure, it’s a little creepy, but the Ukraine decorates their trees with spiders and cobwebs to honor an old folktale about a spiderweb that turns gold on Christmas morning.
Japan: The Asian nation adorns their trees with origami cranes, paper fans, and lanterns... as if we'd expect any less from a country known for its intricate beauty!
Australia: When December hits, it’s summer down under, so they use seashells as Christmas décor. (Thanks for rubbing it in, Australia.)
Sweden: Strangely enough, Sweden treats Christmas as their own kind of Fourth of July, by stringing their trees with patriotic garlands of the Swedish flag.
France: For centuries, France has continued the ancient tradition of decorating their trees with real fruit — or fruit ornaments if the home has problems with pests.
Germany: Y'know how we put Christmas lights on our tree? Some German households still use actual candles. Have a holly, jolly, flammable Christmas!
Finland: Straw "himmeli" are geometric ornaments that are meant to bring good harvest. They're also so on-trend that they look like they're straight out of an Urban Outfitters catalog.
Denmark: That arbiter of great design, Denmark, doesn't skimp when it comes to ornaments They hand-craft stylish paper hearts (called "julehjerte") which can be filled with nuts and candy.
Netherlands: Why decorate your tree with health foods like fruit or popcorn when you can cover it in cookies? The Netherlands has the right idea by loading their trees with wreath-shaped Kerstkransjes biscuits!
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