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Christmas Around the World

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In a previous post I talked about a US tradition regarding the Christmas pickle, but what about other countries? Well let’s see if our neighbors around the world have traditions that we might think are just as strange.

If you live in a certain region of Spain you may have the tradition of placing a Caganer figure in amongst the rest of your nativity scene. However, you may want to rethink that tradition since the Caganer is a figurine of a defecating man and apparently it is popular to have one that looks like a celebrity or political figure. They also have the Tio de Nadal, or “pooping log”. Decorated with a face a blanket, it is placed halfway in the fire on Christmas Eve and beaten with sticks. Seems to be a lot of poop related tradition in this part of the world… I think I will stick with the pickle!

Christmas Traditions

In Iceland, kids leave a shoe in the window during the 12 days of Christmas and each night they are filled with sweets and gifts to be enjoyed the next morning. German children apparently do this on December 5th and if they are bad they only find a tree branch in their shoe. I don’t know about you, but I would not eat anything that came out of my kid’s shoe.

Austrian children’s parents may be onto something here. Their kids live in fear of Krampus, the Christmas devil who apparently beats naughty children with branches. Now eat your vegetables or no presents and Krampus will come to visit you. Yikes, Bring on the vegetables!We now have an Elf on A Shelf that seems to do the trick of keeping kids on their best behavior, a simple “hmmm wonder what Elfie will tell Santa tonight” and they are angels!Who needs Krampus when you have a tiny stuffed elf that keeps kids behaving?

In Japan card stock and stationary is a very popular item with a full range of quality and style in the paper. However at Christmas time it is time to send out those wonderful Christmas cards, but remember to avoid Red cards, as these are traditionally the color used for funeral announcements. But on a brighter note, nothing says Christmas like KFC on Christmas Eve. That’s right good old Colonel Sanders has had a special place in Japan Christmas tradition ever since an incredible advertising campaign in 1974. After a bucket of original recipe, sit back and enjoy some Christmas cake but don’t forget to order yours early, typically months in advance.

Slovakia has fun tradition, but I am sure that for at least one person in the household who has to clean afterwards, they could do without this one. The most senior man of the house takes a spoonful of loksa pudding (a mixture of sweetened poppy seed and bread) and throws it at the ceiling. The more that sticks, the better.

I bet kids in Ireland get the best gifts!There it is tradition to leave mince pies and a pint of Guinness out for Santa in place of milk and cookies.I would totally take that bribe for good presents.

In Italy, Christmas traditions start eight days before Christmas. On Christmas day Babbo Natale (Santa Claus) might bring small gifts, but the main day for present giving is on Epiphany. Epiphany is celebrated 12 days after Christmas on 6th January . On Epiphany night, children believe that Befana, an old lady, or Three Kings brings them presents. Stockings are hung by the fireplace (sound familiar?) for Befana to fill.

Happy Weird Holidays from your friends at Tree In A Box!

If you are interested in more Christmas lore, the special Grow your own Christmas tree kit by Tree In A Box contains a 32 page booklet that tells a little about where these traditions came from.

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