Last week I wrote about infusing your holiday with your own personal rituals, and the potential to create new traditions for yourself or your family. Another recent offering was about unusual wedding traditions around the world. So I now present the mash-up: unusual holiday traditions from around the world.
I did find one specific connection between the holiday and the wedding weirdness: single woman in Czechoslovakia can predict if they will be married in the coming year by throwing a shoe over their shoulder at Christmas time. To insure the accuracy of this, because obviously this will work, she must stand with her back to the door of her house, if the shoe lands with the heel towards the door, there will be no marriage in the coming year!
We know that Santa Claus, or Saint Nick, goes by many names and takes many forms around the world. Perhaps the strangest variation is Krampus! Krampus is a beast-like creature who punishes or rewards children at Christmas time (apparently he, too, knows if you’ve been bad or good). This demon-like creature has roots in Germanic folklore and is still somewhat popular in that region. While in Norway it is very common to have a family-member dress as Julenissen (Santa Claus) and visit the home on Christmas Eve to deliver gifts, so to, do people dress up as Krampus! By the way, gifts are delivered and opened on Christmas eve in Norway because obviously Santa starts his journey there and must get a good early start to get to us here before morning.
I had to check and re-check this one because it just seems so wrong, but in Japan the fast food chain Kentucky Fried Chicken is a traditional Christmas feast. Because some Asian countries have a fascination with western traditions, KFC managed to capitalize on that by claiming that fried chicken is the traditional Christmas meal. Yum?
In the Ukraine spider webs are used to decorate the Christmas tree. The legend behind this tells of a poor family, unable to decorate their tree, came home to find that spiders, hearing the family’s cries, decorated the tree with their webs. The legend continues that on Christmas morning the webs turned to gold and silver, and the family was saved. Spider web decorations are not real either, in case you were wondering.
In Venezuela when people attend mass at Christmas time, they do so on roller skates! The streets in Caracas are closed off between December 16 and 24 for roller skaters on their way to church!
In the interest of inclusion I tried to find strange Hanukkah traditions, but came up with nothing. Perhaps the latkes and derides are strange enough on their own. But don’t forget the humorous faux holiday ‘festivus’ or last year’s moniker: ‘Thanksgivukkah,’ used when Hanukkah fell on Thanksgiving.
There are, of course, many more odd traditions around the world. We have one of our own here in the USA – the yule log on television! You don’t have to admit it, but perhaps you have had your tv tuned to the yule log, too. Kind of strange, but fun.