It’s that time of the year again. Sleigh bells, Christmas carols and Santa Claus – there’re always part of our Christmas celebrations. But did you know that in different corners of the world, Christmas is celebrated differently? While I’m in Dresden, East Germany, celebrating Christmas with a good friend and playing with snow, I’m digging up some quirky and slightly amusing Christmas traditions to share with you. Merry X’mas!
Pudding is very important in the Christmas traditions of Great Britain. During the process of making the pudding, the British has a traditional practice of making a wish while mixing the the ingredients in a clockwise direction – only this way will your wishes come true.
The Vatican, unable to prove the existence of modern-day Santa Claus decided to tell kids that a kindly old witch, La Befana, delivers presents to them. So instead of waiting enthusiastically for Santa to arrive in his reindeer sleigh, the children dreams of a witch bringing them Christmas gifts.
An artificial spider and web are often included in the decorations on Ukrainian Christmas trees. A spider web found on Christmas morning is believed to bring good luck. A Ukrainian folk tale says that there once lived a woman so poor that she could not afford Christmas decorations for her family. One Christmas morning, she awoke to find that spiders had trimmed her children’s tree with their webs. When the morning sun shone on them, the webs turned to silver and gold.
Sending red Christmas cards to anyone in Japan constitutes bad etiquette, since funeral notices are customarily printed in red. Christmas cards tend to be white usually, a color that represents snow and clarity.
The capital city of Venezuela has an interesting modern-day tradition. The streets in Caracas are closed off every Christmas eve to allow churchgoers to get there by roller-skates. A big city with bustling traffic, this way you’re sure to get to the church on time for Christmas mass!
A typical Christmas tradition in Spain involves putting up a ‘belen’, part of the nativity scene – the day when baby Jesus was born and the three wise men arrived in Bethlehem. Except, among the figurines, you’ll find a character called ‘El Caganer’ (translated to the great defecator). In Catalonia, this figure is particularly popular. He’s literally defecating– the “fertilizer” means the year will yield a good harvest.
In Norway, on Christmas Eve, all the brooms in the house are hidden as the Norwegians have an ancient belief that witches and mischievous spirits came out on Christmas Eve and would steal their brooms for to ride the skies.
The best-known Latvian Christmas tradition is an odd custom called mumming. "Mummers" wear an assortment of masks, the most traditional ones include faces of bears, horses, goats, gypsies, and, amusingly, living corpses. Get out onto the streets, it’s a delightful sight!
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