While you take a break from feasting and present opening, we hope you enjoy this article on some of the bizarre christmas traditions happening around the world today.
From all of us here at Lifestyle Collective, we wish you a wonderful Christmas!
Iceland: The Yule Cat
Let us start with one of the more bizarre festive traditions that comes from Iceland, where a giant cat is said to roam the snowy countryside at Christmas time. Traditionally farmers would use the Yule Cat as an incentive for their employees to work harder. Those workers that pulled their weight would receive a new set of clothes, while those who didn’t would be devoured by the gigantic cat-like beast.
Today it is customary for everyone in Iceland to get a new set of clothing for Christmas to avoid an unsavoury demise.
Austria: Bad Santa
While we are all well acquainted with the jolly present giving Santa Claus, in Austria, children believe in a ghoulish creature called ‘Krampus’, the evil accomplice of St Nicholas, who is said to wander the streets in search of naughty children. During the month of December you can expect to see terrifying masked figures out and about scaring kids and adults alike with ghastly pranks.
Caracas: Roller Skate Mass
In the Venezuelan capital of Caracas, masses of townsfolk make their way to mass on roller skates every year on Christmas morning. The tradition is so well-established that many of the city’s streets are closed to traffic from 8am on Christmas day, to ensure that the skating congregation can get to church safely. It’s even said that children will sleep with one lace from their skates tied around their toe, the other skate dangling from the window so that their friends can wake them up with a friendly tug on the lace.
Italy: Belfana the Witch
In Italy, the action takes place on the eve of January 5th. According to folklore, an old woman named Belfana visits all the children of Italy to fill their stockings with candy and leave them presents if they’ve been good. Just like Father Christmas, Belfana enters through the chimney and is left treats by the children who live there.
Spain: The Poop Log
Tió de Nadal is made from a hollow log, with stick legs, a smile, and a red hat. Every evening between December 8th and Christmas Eve, the children feed the log small treats with water, and leave him under a blanket to keep him warm.
Christmas Eve is when things take a turn for the weird when the very same children that fed and watered the log, now beat the log with sticks while singing traditional songs which include lyrics such as “Poop log, Poop nougats, Hazelnuts and mato cheese, If you don’t poop well, I’ll hit you with a stick, Poop log!”. After Tió de Nadal is properly beaten and serenaded, the log magically poops out presents and candy – after which he is then thrown in the fire for warmth.
Ukraine: A Cobweb Christmas
This festive tradition is not one for arachnophobes. While most of us deck our tree with baubles and tinsel, Ukrainians use decorations that mimic the natural formation of spiders’ webs shimmering with dew.
The tradition goes back to a folktale about a poor widow who could not afford to decorate her tree for her children. Legend has it that spiders in the house took pity on the family’s plight, and spun beautiful webs all over the tree, which the children awoke to find on Christmas morning. Fittingly, spiders’ webs are also considered to be lucky in Ukrainian culture.