Check Out Weird Christmas Traditions the World Over

KA_Christmas Countdown Article 2015 Kaitlin's Article Gift Shops_Hyannis_12181529While we, here in the good old USA celebrate our traditional Christmases with such delights as hanging stockings, decorating the tree, and binging on baked ham, a holiday roast or other kinds of meats and treats, traditions around the world often differ greatly. While “weird” may be subjective, some of these worldly practices may definitely seem unusual. That being said, having traditions is what’s important, and that we celebrate the Christmas holiday in each of our own special ways. Here are a few interesting traditions we found:

Slovakia – In this European country, which sits between Austria and Ukraine, the most senior man in the household takes a spoon of loksa (bread) pudding and throws it at the ceiling. Supposedly, the more that sticks, the luckier you’ll be.

Sweden – In Sweden, a peeled almond is hidden in the festive rice pudding. The person that finds it will supposedly be married within the year.

Norway – In Norway, Christmas Eve is viewed with great suspicion. Norwegians believe that this is the night when evil spirits return to Earth. Each year, the women hide all of the household mops and brooms, so that they can’t be stolen by witches. Sometimes the menfolk even take out their guns and fire a warning shot into the air.

India – Christians here celebrate Christmas with midnight mass and gift-giving like the rest of the world, but with the absence of fir trees or pine trees to decorate, they usually made do with banana trees and mango trees instead.

Japan – Christmas in Japan means Kentucky Fried Chicken. Since the beginning of this marketing campaign four decades ago, KFC has been associated with Christmas in the minds of the Japanese for generations, a tradition passed on from parent to child in spite of its commercialized beginnings. More than 240,000 barrels of chicken will be sold during Christmas, five to ten times its normal monthly sales.

Wales – On no particular day or time, from Christmas to late January, Mari Lwyd is a ritual of old, meant to bring good luck. One person dresses up as a horse, using an actual horse skull, and is accompanied by a group of people as they go from house to house and sing in the hopes that they will be rewarded with food and drink.

The Balkans – For the good children, there is Santa Claus. For the bad, there is Krampus, a beast-like creature who shows up in order to punish the ill-behaved. Just the sight of him is punishing! Krampus has roots in Germanic folklore. Today, young people dress up as Krampus and roam the streets in Austria, Romania, Bavaria, and other Balkan countries to frighten young children.

South Africa – On Christmas Day, locals indulge in the deep fried caterpillars of the Emperor moth. In this country, it’s a much-celebrated delicacy.
Iceland – A “yule cat” is said to stalk the hills in Iceland. Those who don’t receive new clothes before Christmas Eve are said to be devoured by this mythical beast.

Guatemala – Guatemalans sweep out their houses before Christmas. Each neighborhood will create one large pile of dirt, place an effigy of the devil on top, and then burn the pile.

Catalonia – In this Spanish community, there are a couple of strange traditions, one of which is the caga tió or “defecating log.” In the fortnight leading up to Christmas, a grinning creature is created out of a small log and placed on the dining room table. The log must be fed every day with fruit, nuts, and sweets and, on Christmas Eve, it’s beaten with sticks, excreting its goodies.

By Ann Luongo
737 West Main Street
Hyannis, MA 02601
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