Dec 2011 22

World’s Strangest Christmas Traditions

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Cagatio Cagatio by Wikimedia Commons

From this part of the world, it seems that everyone must celebrate Christmas the way we do and are so proud of. But don’t be too fast with your ethnocentric judgments; our choice of the strangest Christmas customs from around the globe will certainly change your notion of the typical festive time celebration rituals.

Caga Tia

Caga Tia, or the pooping log, is one of the most popular Christmas Traditions in Catalonia. The log is hollowed out so that it can be filled with small candies, nuts, or fruits and has legs and a smiley face painted on it. Beginning December 8th, kids must feed him every day and make sure Caga Tia is covered with a blanket, so that it doesn’t catch cold. On Christmas Eve, the log gets beaten with sticks until it poops all its content (the last piece must be onion, garlic, or herring). After the log gave out all it has to offer, it’s usually thrown into the fireplace…

Spider and Web

Silver Spider by Kate Renkes Silver Spider by Kate Renkes

In Ukraine, apart from ordinary ornaments, Christmas trees carry one special piece of decoration — a spider and his web, usually made of plastic. It’s hidden somewhere around the tree and brings luck to the first person from the family who finds it. The tradition stems from the old story about a poor mother who couldn’t afford nice decorations. However, when she woke up one morning, a spider had decorated her tree with its beautiful silver webs and saved her children’s merry Christmas Eve.

Christmas for the Dead

In Portugal, dead members of the family aren’t forgotten on Christmas Day. In the morning, a feast called “consoda” is held. The family gathers to eat and invites dead people over to join them by setting the table for extra places and serving extra food in case some of the deceased show up after all.

Rollerblades Rock!

The city of Caracas in Venezuela came up with a contemporary tradition suited for athletes. All the streets in this buzzing city are blocked off so that churchgoers are free to get to festive masses by roller-skates. Maybe we should think of something similar — getting a bit of exercise during the holiday over-eating can’t be wrong!

Caganer front Caganer by Wikimedia Commons


South-European states are crazy about their tradition of Caganer, or “Shitter” in English. Caganer is a character added to the usual model Betlehem as we know it — including Mary, Joseph, and Baby Jesus. However, his special feature is that he is shown in the act of defecating, with pants down on his knees and a pile of feces under at his heels. For obvious reasons, he is put in the corner of the holy scene. These days, Caganer takes on various characters, including celebrities, politicians, or Santa himself.

Broom Hideout

In Norway, all the brooms in the household have to be hidden on Christmas Day, as the legend says that witches and evil spirits wander the country to find brooms to ride on in the sky. As the evil creatures are let loose, men sometimes go outside and fire from a shotgun to thwart them away.

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