Christmas is hands down the favorite festival of all and sundry, all over the world! No matter where you live or which religion you belong to, you CANNOT escape the joy and ecstasy the spirit of Christmas fills you with. We all have our own Christmas traditions bequeathed to us by our ancestors. Here are a few unique (and at times, absurdly weird) traditions observed around the world. A Christmas gift to you all from Procaffenation! I’m sure Yule love them!
The Pooping El Caganer – Catalan, Spain
The Nativity scene, one of the most celebrated Christmas decorations. The baby Jesus in the beautiful manger, protected and loved by Mother Mary and Joseph, and flanked by sheep and the Magi is such a pristine symbol of togetherness. But the Catalans also include something else in their Nativity scene – a pooping man, El Caganer.
The Caganer is shown wearing a red Catalan hat, a white shirt and black trousers pulled down to his ankles! Also, he is pooping! He is usually hidden behind a tree outside the manger. People believe that the Caganer symbolizes fertility and is included in the Nativity scene to bring good luck and a plentiful harvest in the coming year. Swacch Catalan Abhiyaan, anyone?
Pickle-hiding – Germany
You must have heard about parents hiding Christmas presents for their children. But hiding pickles? The Germans hide an ornamental glass pickle among the Christmas decorations before the children wake up on Christmas Day. The one who finds the predicament gets to unwrap a special gift and is also said to be blessed with good fortune. The following story is believed to be the origin of this tradition:
John Lower was a Bavarian soldier who was held at Andersonville Prison during the Civil War. The conditions were so severe that he was dying of starvation. On Christmas Eve, the guard felt sorry for him and gave him a pickle to eat. Like a miracle, that pickle saved Lower from dying. When he returned home and narrated the incident to his family, they decided to hide a pickle in the Christmas Tree to remember the blessing of God.
Shoe-Tossing – Czech Republic
One must have heard about bouquet tossing at Christian weddings. The lady who catches the bouquet gets to become a bride soon. Now, shoe-tossing is a similar sort of a tradition observed by unmarried girls in the Czech Republic during Christmas. The girl stands with her back to a door, usually the kitchen door, and throws a shoe over her shoulder, towards the door. On landing, if the toe of the shoe points towards the door, the girl would find a suitable groom within a year. So, this is something all-girls-dying-to-get-married should try this Christmas. And others, you might use this tactic to hit your enemy with a shoe!
Spider Web Decorations – Ukraine
In Ukraine, people have replaced stars and bells with spiders and spider webs as Christmas decorations (Plastic ones, silly!) This is said to bring them good luck and a prosperous New Year. The origin of this tradition is somewhat like this:
A poor woman brought a tree from the woods for her children, a day before Christmas. However, they did not have the money to buy the decorations, and they went to bed, weeping. The spiders in the house felt sorry for them and decorated the tree with webs. On Christmas morning, the rays of the sun made the webs glisten like gold and silver! And this is why the spider symbolizes good fortune in Ukraine.
Hiding The Brooms – Norway
Now all Harry Potter fans would easily connect with this tradition. The Norwegians believe that witches visit their homes on Christmas Eve and steal their broomsticks to ride. Then they visit more houses and create mischief. Thus, on Christmas Eve, people hide their broomsticks so that the witches are not able to spread mischief! (Well, had I been in their place, I would have greeted the witch with a Nimbus 2000 instead!)
For now, Feliz Navidad!