It’s the most wonderful time of the year! We are decorating trees, baking cookies and everything smells of the Holidays. Comparing different cultures there is not a real consent regarding the date on which we celebrate Christmas. Some celebrate on December 24th, others the 25th and in other cultures January 6th is the most significant day of the holiday season.
Well, like they say “Different folks, different strokes.” And just as much as we celebrate on different dates, the traditional celebrations can be different.
Here is a little selection of some rather strange Christmas traditions around the world:
The typical Christmas tree decoration here includes a fake spider and spider webs. Both are being hidden in the tree and the person who finds it is promised good luck. According to an old folk tale an old widow wasn’t able to afford the Christmas tree decoration for her family. On Christmas Day she woke up and saw that a spider had wonderfully decorated the tree with its web.
In Catalonia a very natural, but not very openly discussed topic is the protagonist of the Christmas traditions. In the nativity scene the so-called Caganer can’t be missing. It is a figure that with pants down is in the middle of doing a Number 2.
If you happen to stay in Barcelona during Christmas you will find this figure in its traditional version, a red cap, white shirt and black pants, but nowadays you can also buy the Caganer in form of various celebrities of all sorts “doing their business”.
Another tradition is the “Caga Tío” a wood log that children serenade on Christmas Eve. According to the tradition the Caga Tío rewards the kids by releasing presents from his behind. The origin of these traditions is unclear; it is however suspected that it is a metaphor for the circle of nature.
In Austria it is taken very seriously that children are well behaved. Santa Claus has an evil twin in Austria named Krampus. According to the tradition all men dress up in scary costumes on December 5th to scare people and hit them (gently) with sticks.
As Catholics among the globe it’s a popular custom to go the morning mass during the Holidays. What’s so special about Caracas is that people go to church on roller skates. Until 8am in the morning the streets are blocked for any car traffic and in the night before mass children tie a string to their big toe and leave the other end hanging out of the window so that the roller skaters that pass by can pull on it.