Christmas is a time for traditions that are shared with family and friends. Whether it’s Santa Claus, or singing carols, or heading to your chosen religious observation, there are many holiday traditions that are held close to everyone’s hearts. But the United States isn’t the only country with holiday traditions. All around the world, people in other places celebrate traditions that have a rather strange take on what we in the states consider familiar. Here are some of the strangest alternatives to some rather familiar holiday traditions.
Mysterious Visitors in the Night
Santa Claus is a fixture in the Western world, known for visiting children in the middle of the night on Christmas Eve/Christmas Morning. He delivers toys and treats to good kids, and for the bad children, he leaves a lump of coal. In other parts of the world, however, Santa isn’t the only visitor during the holidays.
In Greece, people are on the lookout for Kallikantzaroi, a race of goblins that spend the year trying to cut down the World Tree to bring about the end of the world. During the 12 days of Christmas, they escape to the surface to play tricks on people. Then they go back to the tree, only to find that it has healed during the 12 days they spent on the surface.
For many people, Christmas is all about the tree and the decorations. From mistletoe to garlands of popcorn and cranberries, people festoon their homes in lights, colors, and all sorts of holiday cheer. There are as many strange holiday traditions around the world as there are ways to put lights and ornaments on your tree. Here are some of the most bizarre decorations you’ll find during the holidays.
Catalonia is a small part of Spain located in the northeastern Iberian Peninsula. It’s also home to Barcelona, the capital of Spain. They are also home to two of the strangest Christmas decorating traditions, both involving pooping. The Caganer is a small figurine that shows a man pooping. This is placed in the traditional Nativity scene and hidden for kids to find.
The second pooping holiday tradition from Catalonia is the Christmas log, or the Tio de Nadal. It’s also known as the Caga Tio, or pooping log. The log is hollow with a face on one end. Every night, family gathers to pretend to feed the log and cover it with a blanket. On Christmas Eve, the family gathers around the log and beats it with a stick, making it “poop” out dates, figs, candies, and other treats. The last thing that comes out is usually an onion or herring.
In Sweden, holiday décor traditionally consists of a straw goat. This Yule Goat –also called a julbocken – is supposed to have its roots in Norse mythology and the goats that Thor rode. You can find a yule goat all over and in many forms, from giant statues that are set on fire, to small ornaments that are put on trees.
Gifts That Keep Giving
Christmas and the holidays have their own special foods in the United States. The Christmas goose or turkey and the traditional meal is as much a staple of the holiday as the tree and presents. Holiday foods are celebrated all over the world, and each has their own special meaning to each culture. Some, however, are pretty strange, at least to the western world.