According to Andy Rooney, “One of the most glorious messes in the world is the mess created in the living room on Christmas day.” That glorious mess is always welcome because every family gets to carry out their Christmas tradition. Christmas traditions rarely change and they are all about spreading the love. While everyone spreads love by buying buckets of KFC in Japan, in the US, most prefer to come together and eat a homemade meal while sharing the cheer. Some Christmas traditions around the world aren’t as simple and harmless though. These 10 are the craziest Christmas traditions from different parts of the world.
The Yule Cat: Iceland
Santa is a great guy as he rewards all children, even those who haven’t been on their best behaviour before Christmas. In Iceland, Santa rewards children who have been on their best behaviour with lots of gifts but most importantly, new clothes. Those who haven’t finished their chores or haven’t behaved nicely will fall victim to Jólakötturinn or Yule Cat. Yule Cat is a huge cat that towers over houses and peeps through the windows to see which children haven’t received new clothes. It proceeds to eat their food before eating the kids themselves, It is surely a smart method of getting kids to be on their best behaviour before Christmas.
Just like Iceland’ Yule Cat, the Alpine Region of Austria has their own evil version of Santa that comes to punish stubborn children. Krampus is a scary half man-half goat being that comes every Christmas chasing after children that haven’t been good and those who haven’t completed their chores. There is no agreeable version of Krampus, so adults can wear any costume and turn Christmas into Halloween for their kids and amuse other adults in the neighbourhood.
Candy-Pooping Christmas Logs: Catalonia
When you visit Barcelona around Christmas, you are likely to see homes dotted logs with smiley faces like clowns painted on them. These logs are known as Caga Tio by the locals and they are actually an interesting Christmas tradition. On Christmas Eve, children that have behaved well will be allowed to go and collect presents from these logs. They may have to pray and bring a blanket to put under the log to collect all the candy and presents. They have to go back to pray after bringing the blanket and not watch the logs as they deliver presents.
The Goat On Fire: Gavle, Sweden
Santa wasn’t always able to carry his presents on his sleigh so whenever his sleigh wasn’t an option, his Yule Goat would be used to deliver the gifts instead. In Northern Europe, it is common to find tiny goat statues used as Christmas decorations after this myth. The town of Gavle, in Sweden, the town’s tradition since 1966 has been constructing a giant goat made of straw. The problem with straw goats is that most of the town’s statues go up in flames thanks to arsonists. It is believed that more than 35 have gone up in flames over the years despite the town’s effort to hire security guards and CCTV surveillance to protect their statues.
Roller-Skating To Christmas Mass: Venezuela
Going to church on Christmas day is standard practice in most nations where Christmas is celebrated but in Venezuela, everyone goes to church in style. In Caracas, all roads are closed to allow people to skate to church for the mass and it is such a spectacle with huge media coverage. The skaters change into regular boots once inside the church but go back to their skating once midnight-mass is over.
Mari LWYD: Wales
If you want another scary but happy Christmas, then the villages of Wales are a great place to have one. The tradition is believed to predate Christmas itself although others say that Mari was a mare that was moving from house to house looking for a place to give birth. The Mari is actually a mask of a skull of a horse controlled by a person who moves from house to house scaring people and spreading the cheer.
A Christmas Tree Made Of Feathers: Indonesia
Indonesia is a largely Muslim country but Christmas is still a widely celebrated holiday in the country with both Christians and Muslims participating. In Bali, Christmas trees are not the standard green trees with decorations like we are used to though. Most Indonesians make their Christmas trees using an assortment of bird feathers creating a uniquely coloured decoration. The trees have gained international recognition with some being exported around the world.
Hiding Brooms On Christmas Day: Norway
Now, you have probably seen those images of witches riding on brooms while on their nightly duties. In Norway, some people believe that Christmas eve is also the day when witches and evil spirits visit people’s houses and may make away with their brooms. You will therefore find all of a home’s brooms tucked away safely with lock and key so that these “evil people” don’t take them away.
Fried Bugs: South Africa
Caterpillars aren’t exactly the definition of a delicacy for many people in the world but when you visit South Africa, your perception might change. Caterpillars and termites are seen as a delicacy in the country and most of the freshly harvested ones are readily available during Christmas. People, therefore, consider them the staple Christmas crunchy dish.
Eating Fermented Birds: Greenland
Kiviak is one of the smelliest foods in the world and not what many would consider a delicacy. In Greenland, the Inuits have been preparing it for centuries though and there is no better time to eat it than Christmas. The dish is made by stacking up to 500 whole seagulls or auk birds in the skin of a disembowelled seal. The skin is then sutured and buried under a stone for up to six months before being removed. The birds are fermented with their feathers and insides intact hence the stench when finally unveiled.
Do you know of any other weird and wonderful Christmas or festive traditions? Why not tell us about them in the comments below.