Strange and Twisted Christmas Traditions from Around the World
You probably think your Christmas traditions are pretty normal. Yeah, right! Like there’s anything normal about eating candy and fruit out of an old sock that’s been hanging over a fireplace, or encouraging a fat man in a red suit to break into your house and eat all your Oreos.
But even these weird American traditions aren’t as strange as the Christmas traditions from other countries around the globe.
Spain: You Can’t Have Christmas Without Poop
You probably though that South Park’s Mr. Hankey was just a crazy character made up just for the show. But in certain parts of Spain, Christmas and fecal matter really do go hand in hand.
Residents of the Catalonian region have a Christmas tradition called caga tió (“pooping log” in English.) A small log, complete with a red Christmas hat, is placed on the dining room table. It is “fed” with treats for two weeks, and then beaten with sticks by the family on Christmas Eve to force the log to “poop out” the treats and give them to the family to share.
The yuletide poop mania doesn’t end there, however. Catalonians Christmas decorations wouldn’t be complete with a couple of caganers.
The caganer is a special figure that’s added to an otherwise normal nativity scene. While all the other figures adore the baby Jesus, the caganer squats in the corner, pushing out a big fat deuce. Weirdly, the caganer is carved to look like well-known person, such as the Pope or Obama.
Sweden: People Freak Out If Donald Duck Doesn’t Show Up For Christmas Eve
In the US, there are plenty of different holiday entertainment traditions. Some families watch Bing Crosby’s White Christmas, while others prefer a Charlie Brown special. But in Sweden, the people are crazy for Donald Duck.
Specifically, a Donald Duck special called Kalle Anka och hans vänner önskar God Jul. In English, that’s “Donald Duck and his friends wish you a Merry Christmas.” Strangely, the show itself has almost nothing to do with the holidays. But ever since it aired for the first time in Sweden back in the 1950s, families have looked forward to seeing Donald Duck on Christmas Eve.
In the past, when TV stations have taken the show off the schedule, Swedes protest en masse until the Donald Duck cartoon gets aired. About half of the people in Sweden tune in to see the show every year at 3pm.
You’d think they’d be more into the Muppets, what with the Swedish Chef and all…
Japan: Christmas Dinner Comes From KFC
In America, getting your Christmas dinner from a burger joint would be the saddest thing ever. But in Japan, fast food is a beloved Christmas tradition.
Because so many Japanese apartments are micro-sized, there’s not even enough room in the kitchen for an oven that could hold an entire turkey or beef roast. Starting in the 1970s, KFC Japan started airing a series of ads to get Japanese people to eat fried chicken for Christmas dinner, inspired by legions of depressed American ex-pats who were getting their poultry fix from the Colonel.
The ads worked, and today in Japan it’s not uncommon to see people wait two hours or more to get their bucket of the Colonel’s famous chicken. So, I guess it’s not exactly “fast food.”
This stuff ain’t cheap, either. The Christmas “barrel” of chicken will set you back $40, and comes with your choice of fried, roasted, or smoked chicken, along with a salad and a chocolate cake. For that price, the bucket should turn into a Transformer that does your dishes after dinner.
Greenland: Christmas Dinner Is A Raw Whale (If You’re Lucky)
You so do not get to complain about brussels sprouts being served at your Gramma’s Christmas table this year. Think of the poor people of Greenland, who have to suffer through some truly hideous dishes.
The traditional Christmas dinner in Greenland centers around a “delicacy” called mattak. It’s likely named after the gagging sound you’ll make after you try to swallow it: mattak is basically just raw whale skin, with a little bit of blubber attached.
If you’re lucky, you’ll be served whale skin. If you’re very unlucky, you’ll get an even finer delicacy called kiviak. This dish is basically a turducken from the ninth circle of hell. A small bird called an auk (think penguin, but cuter) is killed, then wrapped in a layer of seal skin.
You don’t get to put it in the oven and bake it. No, that would be too predictable. Instead, you take this hellish seal-bird burrito and bury it under the ground. That would be fine, if the bird stayed buried. But nooooooo, then they dig up the damn thing after a few months, and eat its partially decomposed and fermenting flesh.
Oh, and did we mention that the birds are sewed into the seal skin while still whole and intact? You can eat everything but the feathers…and they mean EVERYTHING.
Seriously, Greenland, what the hell?
Austria: Christmas Is A Slasher Flick
Forget Krampus. That shit’s played out. The new hotness in dark, creepy Christmas characters is Perchta, and she’s TERRIFYING.
Perchta means “belly-slitter,” and she’s like something out of an Austrian horror film. Think of her as the tooth fairy…if the tooth fairy had escaped from a mental hospital.
Perchta travels to the homes of all little boys and girls just after Christmas ends. If she is pleased with your conduct, she will leave you a small silver coin. But if you haven’t done all your chores, Perchta cuts your stomach open, yanks out all your organs, and replaces them with straw and rocks.
How is it that SyFy hasn’t written a crappy made-for-TV horror flick about this legendary psychopath?
Um, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go do my chores so I don’t get disemboweled on the day after Christmas…