Monday, December 23, 2019

Unusual Christmas Traditions

Christmas Tree, Lights, Christmas, Tree Every family has their traditions for Christmas.  For some, its having the tree surrounded by the nativity scene while others like their tinsel tree.  Some families open presents on Christmas Eve while others insist everyone wait till the morning.

Some places have some unique holiday traditions, some we've heard, some not but all quite interesting.

Let's start with Austria's bad Santa.  This Santa is known as Krampus, who is identified at the assistant to Santa.  He goes out looking for children who behave badly to scare them.  He is the one with a terrifying mask who is strolling down the streets in December, playing stunts, and ghastly pranks.  In addition, Vienna has a parade devoted to celebrating Kampus.

In Caracas, Venezuela, it is the tradition on Christmas morning to roller skate to Mass at the local churches.  There are so many residents who do this that the police department has closed down many streets in the down beginning at 8 A.M. so the church goers can easily roller skate to worship.  There is a story that children will tie one lace of a skate to their toe while hanging the skate out the window so their friends can skate buy, jerk the skate to wake them up.

In Iceland, there is an a giant cat who roams the countryside. Farmers used to use this Yule cat as a way of getting their workers to work harder because those who worked hard were gifted a set of new clothing while those didn't, were eaten by the cat.  I'm not sure anyone has seen the Yule cat but it has a place in Icelandic tradition.

In the Ukraine, cobwebs are popular at this time of the year.  The story goes that a widow was so poor she couldn't afford to decorate her Yule tree, so the spiders took pity on her and used their spinning ability to cover the tree in cobwebs.  When the children woke up in the morning, their tree was decorated and they were happy.  In addition, the Ukrainians consider cobwebs to be lucky.

 Kentucky Fried Chicken created a campaign in 1974 where they told the Japanese to have "Kentucky" for Christmas.  It was so successful, the Japanese began buying more and more chicken over the years until it is now a tradition.  Most Japanese stop by to pay a premium price for this Christmas Eve meal. The most interesting thing about this tradition is that Christmas is not a holiday in Japan.

It is said the Christmas tree tradition originated in Germany but they have a second unusual tradition connected to trees.  When they set up the tree for the season, they hang a pickle somewhere on the tree.  The child who finds it receives a gift.  There are those who say this tradition did not originate in Germany but in Spain.  The story goes that Santa released two boys who'd been locked in a pickle barrel and brought them back to life.  Who knows but it is still interesting.

In the Netherlands, children leave their shoes by the fire in the hopes they will be filled with gifts and treats.  Children also leave carrots as a treat in their shoes for Sinterklaas's horse. In older times, children who did not behave well would find potatoes in their shoes instead of treats as a punishment.

In Italy, the tradition happens on January 5th when Belfina, an old lady, visits all the houses to leave their stockings filled with candies and presents.  She is said to enter houses through the chimney just like Santa does, and children leave treats of wine and local foods instead of milk and cookies.

On the other hand, in South Africa, it is a tradition to eat fried caterpillars on Christmas.  The Christmas caterpillar is not your normal caterpillar, it is covered in festive colors.  It is believed that by eating these creatures on Christmas, you are giving yourself some good luck for the upcoming year.

Then in Sweden, it is traditional to watch the 1958 Disney cartoon "Donald Duck and his friends wish you a Merry Christmas." on Christmas Day.  This tradition dates back to the 60's when there were only two channels and television was still new.  One of the stations aired Disney cartoons and every Christmas at 3 PM, people would turn on the television to watch the show.  Even now, over 40 percent of the population still watch the show every year.

I hope you enjoyed reading about these traditions.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  Have a great day.

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