CHARLOTTE, NC, December 20, 2017: After exploring many of the more familiar Christmas traditions, we go from the sublime to the ridiculous. Following are odd customs and holiday festivities from other parts of the world.
Did you know that Santa Claus has an evil twin brother? One who beats and punishes all the children who have misbehaved during the year? Well he does. In the Germanic alpine regions of Europe, Krampus, as he is called, goes through town dressed in frightening costumes on December 5th and hits people with switches and sticks.
The tradition is especially popular in Austria, but it is also
widespread in Hungary, Bavaria and Slovenia. By now if Krampus hasn’t already visited, you are probably safe for another year.
In Venezuela, churchgoers arrive for early morning mass between December 16th and December 24th on roller skates!
Vehicular traffic stops until after eight in the morning to allow skaters to attend services.
Believe it or not, the tradition gets even stranger. The night before, children tie one end of a piece of string to their big toes and hang the other end out of the window. As the skaters pass the next morning, they tug on the strings they see hanging outside the houses.
Apparently, Venezuelan children take great “panes” to participate.
Looking for a husband? Here’s a holiday tradition from the Czech Republic you can try for yourself.
Stand in or near a doorway with your back to the door. Toss one of your shoes over your shoulder. Keep in mind that accuracy is of the essence in this exercise.
If the shoe lands with its toe facing the door it means marriage within the year. If it lands in the other direction with the heel facing the door, it signifies another year as an old maid.
No American in their right mind would ever consider making a reservation to eat Christmas dinner at Kentucky Fried Chicken. It’s an odd custom in Japan.
The traditional KFC Christmas dinner is so popular in the island nation that reservations are often necessary to join Colonel Sanders to dine. Who’d a thunk it?
This very odd customs from Holland has serious racial overtones, but the Dutch have now attempted to disguise it. In much the same manner as in the German regions of the Alps, there is a custom in the Netherlands known as Zwarte Piet, or Black Peter.
Rather than having a twin brother as he does in Austria, Santa has a slave who abducts children that have misbehaved and takes them back to Spain.
Some Dutch people even dress up as Black Peter and blacken their faces before putting on an Afro wig.
In recent years, the racist aspect of the story has created an obvious outcry in Holland. And the backstory is changing. Now the black faces are soot from coming down the chimney.
Just to be sure that everything goes as planned, Norway’s odd customs include that all brooms are brought into the house and hidden away. Legend has it in that in this Scandinavian country witches, demons and evil spirits come out at night looking for brooms to ride so they can spread their dastardly deeds.
Once the brooms are safely stored out of sight, Norwegian men often go outside and fire a shotgun to frighten the evildoers away.
Don’t even ask. One of many odd customs from Spain is to wear red underwear on New Year’s Eve. This custom goes one step further in the tiny village of La Font de la Figuera. Here people of all ages run through the streets on New Year’s Eve wearing nothing but their red undies.
Finally, in Ukraine an artificial spider and its web are hidden in the family Christmas tree. The person who finds it is guaranteed good luck.
According to a Ukrainian folk story, a poor widow woman could not afford decorations for the tree one year. When she awoke on Christmas morning, however, the woman discovered that during the night a spider had decorated the tree by spinning a beautiful web around and through the branches.
Legend has it that some people believe this story is the origin for the tradition of adding tinsel to modern day Christmas tree decorations.
About the Author: Bob Taylor is a veteran writer who has traveled throughout the world. Taylor was an award winning television producer/reporter/anchor before focusing on writing about international events, people and cultures around the globe.
Taylor is founder of The Magellan Travel Club (www.MagellanTravelClub.com)
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