Defecating Spanish statues and Satanic Slavic Santas: James Willis brings you some of the world’s weirdest Christmas traditions. You’ll never complain about putting a penny in the Christmas pudding again…
1. KFC In Japan
In Japan, it is surprisingly common for families to eat KFC as a Christmas dinner. Thanks to the marketing gurus at KFC, the Japanese now have to order KFC meals almost three months in advance of the big day. Frankly, it’s gotten to the stage where they probably think it’s strange for the rest of us to eat Turkey.
2. Pooping Statuettes In Spain
In Catalonia, there is a particularly strange Christmas tradition that involves making and buying small statuettes of well-known people “pooping”. The tradition has gone so far that it also involves people hiding these “pooping” figures in nativity scenes and inviting their friends to try to find them. Gross, huh? Still, if you think that’s bad…
3. Pooping Logs In Spain
I may have overused the word “pooping,” but you’ll have to indulge me for just a little bit longer because another Spanish tradition involves “pooping” logs. This basically means giving a small branch some legs and a face, and then carving a hole in the front of it. The figurine is then given the name ‘Tio’.
As if all that wasn’t weird enough, ‘Tio’ is then regularly ‘fed’ and tucked into a little blanket by Spanish children – presumably so they can look after him in the lead up to Christmas (you know, as you do). On Christmas day, the kids’ suddenly turn badass on their creepy stick figure. After throwing it in the fire, they go around singing songs and beating it with sticks until it “poops” food. Seriously, look it up.
4. Spider Webs In Ukraine
Have you ever seen spider webs covered with dew? In low light they almost start to glitter. Whilst I’m sure those you with arachnophobia probably wouldn’t agree, I think they often look quite nice. Apparently, the Ukrainians do too. How else do you explain the fact that they’ve decided to decorate their trees with fake, glittery cobwebs? Somewhere in the folklore there is a rags to riches tale, however, these days, it’s mostly about making the tree look pretty.
5. Roller Skating In Venezuela
Here’s another question for you: Have you ever been to Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve? No? Okay, have you ever roller skated to Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve? Nope? Well, unless you’re Venezuelan or have, for some reason, decided to spend your Christmas in Caracas, then that’s pretty understandable. And yet, this is a perfectly acceptable way for hundreds of Venezuelans, those who live in the South American capital, to get to church on Christmas Eve. (I bet they have great time doing it too).
6. Man-Eating Monsters In Iceland
In Iceland, Santa brings toys and presents to those who have been good. Unfortunately, Icelandic children also have to deal with the haunting spectre of a giant, man-eating ‘Yule Cat’ – one who finds and devours those who haven’t been so nice. Apparently, this giant Christmas cat was a little TOO normal for the locals. The tradition was therefore extended to include the fact that the Yule Cat only goes after lazy people who wear old clothes. Luckily, if you go clothes shopping before Christmas you’ll probably be fine.
7. Radishes In Mexico
Officially titled “Noche de los rábanos” or “Night of the radishes” (mental note: great title for an animated horror movie), December 23rd is a night of celebration for the nation. Market stalls are festooned with radishes that are carved into Christmas shapes. So the next time you think your nearest Christmas nativity looks just perfect, imagine how much more awesome it would look if it were carved out of radishes.
8. Deathly Monsters In Austria
Ever heard of Krampus? If you said no, I’ll advise you to skip to number 9 and pretend this part doesn’t exist. Krampus is one of the most terrifying things that man has ever invented. This mythical monster spends its time hunting down the ‘naughty’ children. A companion of St. Nicholas, Austrians believe that Krampus does the dirty work and captures the naughty children to take them back to his lair. For some reason, this tradition was so popular that it has even spread into Hungary, Slovenia, the Czech Republic and Slovakia.
9. Almond Hunting In Sweden
There’s a popular party game in the UK that involves throwing your face into a giant plate of flour and trying to bite out a sweet (or something similar) with your teeth. In Sweden, they decided that this activity would be more fun if they replaced the flour with something sticky and savoury. Anyway, as everyone ploughs their way through a big pile of Risalamade (Swedish rice pudding), one ‘lucky’ person will get to find the peeled almond. This person will then get married within the coming year. Sweden does a lot of things brilliantly, but apparently inventing games isn’t one of them.
10. Saunas In Estonia
I thought I’d leave this one till last because it involves a lot of nudity, and I still find that very funny…apparently. Estonian Christmas is filled with pagan traditions because they celebrate both the conventional Christmas and the Winter solstice. Most of the celebrations take place on the 24th December, and usually kick off with some naked sauna action. Apparently, it’s perfectly acceptable to sit and sweat it out with some complete strangers. Quick lads, let’s get some last minute flights to Estonia and find us some women!