Weird Christmas Traditions
We all know Christmas by iconic images like the turkey, pretty gifts, snow and of course, Santa Claus. While we celebrate it here with parties, going to church or simply sitting down for a meal with close friends and family- it’s slightly different in other parts of the world. It’s the food coma portion of the day, so go make yourself a cup of coffee and check out our list of really weird Christmas traditions.
Every year on Christmas Eve the city of Remedios in Cuba becomes the site of Parrandas, a religious carnival that began 200 years ago when a priest sent altar boys into the street banging on pots and pans to keep people awake for midnight mass.
In most places when children are bad they get coal. Not in the Alpine countries. Here, St. Nick is accompanied by two demonic figures who certainly look the part. Krampus, children are told, will put them in a sack and drag them of to hell if they have been bad. But that’s only if you’re lucky. It’s a bad day when Perchta gets her hands on the naughty children. She allegedly will rip open their abdomen, pull out their guts, and stuff them with straw. Yikes!
Every year in Italy during the festival of Epiphany an old witch known as “La Befana” walks through the village streets giving gifts to children.
Skating and Toe Rags
If you ever happen to be in Caracas, Venezuela early on Christmas morning you will find the streets closed to traffic as hundreds of people roller skate to mass. Sometimes kids will even tie a piece of rope to one of their toes and let it dangle out the window as they go to sleep the night before. On their way to church the next morning, skaters will tug at any rope they see hanging down from a window and the children will wake up to watch the spectacle.
In acknowledgement of the Christmas Holidays, Bavarian Highlanders fire handheld mortars into the air every year while wearing their traditional dress.
We tried pronouncing that too. According to Greek folklore, these subterranean goblins come up to the surface once every year during the 12 days of Christmas. During the rest of the year they stay underground sawing away at the World Tree so that it will collapse and the Earth along with it. When they are just about to make their final cuts, however, Christmas comes around and they forget their original mission as they surface to terrorize humanity. After Christmas though, they return to their underground dwellings only to find that the tree has healed itself so they must begin their sinister work anew.
Rumor has it that in Germany the last decoration to go on the tree is a pickle and that the first child to find it on Christmas receives an extra present. As popular as this story is around the world, the truth is that most Germans would have no idea what you are talking about. It’s a rumor, albeit a rumor that someone is making a killing selling glass pickles off of.
Every year, 2 weeks before Christmas children in the former Yugoslavian Republics sneak up on their mother and tie her feet to her chair. They then dance around singing, “Mother’s Day, Mother’s Day, what will you pay to get away?” She then gives them their presents. Evidently it’s not enough to satisfy their little materialistic appetites though, as the following week they do the same thing to their father. Wait, what?
In southern Louisiana massive bonfires are burned every Christmas Eve to light up the river so that Papa Noel (the south Louisiana Santa Claus) can find their houses.
Also known as Black Peter, Zwarte Piet is Santa Claus’ helper. Usually depicted as a young boy with a blackface and curly hair, ever since immigration to the Netherlands increased in recent years there has been a slew of racist allegations against the figure. As a result parents have begun to tell their children that his black face is a result of chimney soot rather than the original story of him being an Ethiopian slave boy rescued by St. Nick.
In the Ukraine, Christmas trees have an extra decoration. Legend has it that a mother was so poor she couldn’t afford decorations for her tree. When she woke up on Christmas morning she found that spiders had decorated for her. For this reason, every Christmas Ukrainians add spider webs to their tennenbaums.
Christmas Eve in the Czech Republic is supposedly a single lady’s chance to find out what her future holds. Standing outside her front door if she throws a shoe over her shoulder and it lands with the toes pointing towards the door she’ll be married within the year.
Tio de Nadal
In one of the stranger traditions on our list, every year on December 8th in Catalonia, children begin to feed a log that the family keeps in their home. Sounds crazy right? But that’s not all. They also cover it up so it doesn’t get cold and then, on Christmas Eve, all the children begin beating the log so that it will poop out their presents. Who could make this stuff up?
Food for thought
In Slovakia, there is a curious tradition where the patriarch of the family fills his spoon with loksa, a type of pudding, and flings it at the ceiling. The more he can get to stick up there the better his harvest will be for the next year.
A testament to KFC’s marketing team, they somehow managed to get the entire country of Japan to consider their chicken a holiday staple. It has become so popular in fact, that people sometimes have to reserve their buckets months in advance.