When my wife and I got married we took Christmas traditions from our respective families and then blended them together to create new rituals for the season.
The past few years have seen a new tradition enter our practice as George, our Elf on the Shelf, has added some new magic to the season. My oldest also insists that Santa’s reindeer eat zucchini, so that is what is left on the mantle.
As we head in to the home stretch of the holidays, here’s a list of bizarre, strange, fun, and unique Christmas traditions from around the world that you might want to introduce to your family’s yearly celebrations.
In Italy, Christmas comes around again in January when La Befana (a nice old lady who looks like a bit of a witch) goes around and gives presents and treats to the kids. Just as with Santa, kids will leave a snack out for La Befana who is usually depicted as dirty and covered in soot since she enters through the chimney.
Image Credit Ele G
The Christmas Pickle
A late 19th Century American tradition, it all revolves a Christmas Tree decoration the shape of a pickle. For Christmas morning, a pickle shaped ornament is hidden on a branch and then the children try to find it. The finder receives an extra present from Santa or good luck for the next year.
The tradition has ties to marketin in the 1890s when glass Christmas decorations were imported from Germany. Woolworths brought in the decorations that featured glass blown vegetables. The Christmas Pickle idea was concocted to sell the product.
Image Credit Tricia
The Yule Goat
There is something about doing a number 2 that is popular with the Mediterranean countries. In addition to Tió de Nadal, residents of the region like to place an extra figurine in their nativity scenes. The Caganer is usually hidden off in a corner of the nativity scene and features an older man with pants around his ankles doing his business. The tradition is said to symbolize “fertilizing the earth.” Children find the Caganer funny, and even the Catholic Church allows the character in its Nativities.
The Caganer is a popular souvenir from the region made to look like the Pope, Messi, even Superman.In 2005, Barcelona’s city council commissioned a nativity scene which did not include a Caganer. What was perceived as an attack against Catalonian tradition, was explained as violating a law banning public defecation and urination. The council said the Caganer was now setting a bad example, but after much criticism and a media campaign, the 2006 nativity restored the Caganer.Image Credit Spain Holiday