The Weirdest Holiday Traditions from Around the World
Your family’s not actually as weird as you think … being photographed on the lap of an overweight stranger, hanging a large sock on the mantle and choking down eggnog are all very tame traditions when weighed up against some popular ways of celebrating in other parts of the world. Here are a few bizarre-o ways other people get festive.
Nativity scenes in Spain include a special guest star that really outshines the rest of the cast. Meet the ‘Caganer,’ or ‘the crapper.’ Since the 17th century a figure of a Catalan man taking a dump has joined Jesus, Mary and Joseph in their manger. Because, why not?
Before we leave Spain, let’s touch on another of their traditions. Meet ‘Tió de Nadal,’ also known as the ‘Christmas Log,’ or the ‘Poo Log’ (we’re seeing a trend here). Children in Spain look after their log from the Feast of the Immaculate Conception (Dec. 8), and are charged with “feeding” it at mealtimes and covering it with a blanket at night. Then on Christmas Eve or Day, kids order their log to drop a deuce of presents and candies. We think we’re quite alright with our own gifts making their way into our houses via the chimney after all.
In Austria, being placed on the ‘naughty’ list comes with some harsh penalties. Rather than being rewarded with presents for being nice, children who’ve misbehaved are beaten by Krampus — a horned, hairy monster with cloven hooves and a long, pointed tongue.
In Japan, the Colonel is the jolly (read: overweight) white-haired man who bears the best of gifts — his in a bucket, rather than a bag. And due to an excellent marketing campaign, Kentucky’s friedest is a hot commodity on Christmas day — billed as the be-all, end-all meal, chicken lovers need to request their KFC two months in advance should they be so lucky as to get those 11 herbs and spices on their ten digits in Japan.
So Wales is pretty weird. The folks there spell things like crazy people, consider themselves people of one country that’s part of another country, and come Christmastime they parade around door to door with the skull of a horse begging for food and drink. Note to self: consider moving to Wales.
South of the border, in Oaxaca to be precise, is “the most impressive vegetable festival of the year” according to sources (read: travel bloggers and Oaxaca PR people, who may or may not understand the draw of global vegetable festivals). The devout carve nativity scenes out of their root veggies, and the most impressive one grants its creator a picture in the local newspaper. Bless.
You know how witches ride around, stirring up terror, on brooms? The Norwegians sure know that, and they aren’t having a lick of it at Christmas. So while you leave out cookies and milk (with a slug of whiskey in it, if you’ve been naughty, and we know you’ve been naughty), these Scandis hide their brooms, for fear that witches will procure them.