The Many Shades Of ChristmasChristmas, Traditions
The time has come to deck the halls, put up the tree and wrap your presents – that’s right, Christmas is here! But, while Irish Christmas can be a time for frantic, last-minute shopping and sparkling silver lights, the Yuletide season takes many forms around the world. Take a break from Spin Casino Online’s thrilling slots to discover eight of the world’s most fascinating festive traditions!
A Catalonian Manger Staple
In some houses, Christmas starts when the star is placed atop the tree, while others ring in the season with candles in windows. For some, however, the manger is the official start of the Yuletide period. Mary, Joseph, the shepherds and the Baby Jesus are placed with the utmost care, but in Catalonia and parts of the Mediterranean, an extra figure makes his appearance. This statuette is the Caganer, depicted in a quiet corner of the nativity scene going to the bathroom. Nobody knows the origin of this tradition, but this quirky character is a fixture of many people’s decorations!
Catalonia’s Christmas Customs
Catalonia’s bathroom fixation does not end with the Caganer, though. Enter Caga Tio, a strange play on Father Christmas that takes the form of a Christmas log in a red hat. Kids feed the log in the run-up to the big holiday and then, once he is full, beat the log with a stick until it releases candy and treats. Doesn’t sound too odd, right? Well, the kids also sing, demanding that Caga Tio “poop” good treats, or else his beating will be more severe! This off-kilter game delights kids throughout December and is a fantastic way to dive into Catalonia’s fascinating culture.
Wales’ Winter Words
Just across the ocean from Ireland, Wales has an off-kilter tradition of its own: Mari Lwyd. This involves the arrival of a horse (normally someone in a costume) at the door of an inn or pub, where a few carols are performed. Sounds straightforward, right? Next comes the exchanging of insults between the horse’s party and those inside the door and, once the verbal sparring is done, a few more carols. This centuries-old custom gives holiday arguments a whole new spin!
Giving Up the Goat
From a horse to a goat and Wales to Sweden, the animal traditions just keep coming. Every year, in the town of Gävle, a large goat display is erected to mark the beginning of the advent season. This wholesome tradition comes with a slightly less clean-cut custom: the burning of the Gävle goat. Though it is illegal to damage the construction, the goat has been vandalised 37 times since its inception!
Swapping Stockings for Shoes
While the Irish love to painstakingly hang their stockings with care on the mantel, in Germany, it’s a different kind of footwear that takes centre stage. On the Feast of St. Nicholas, eager children place their shoes outside their doors or at the fireplace, in the hopes that the kindly patron will fill them with sweets, treats and other goodies. According to legend, the Saint was known for dropping dowry money down the chimney of poor families, thus saving their young daughters from a life of slavery. Today, his kindness continues around the German-speaking world!
A Different Kind of Tree
Does anything say Christmas quite like the smell of the spruce tree in your living room and the glitter of the baubles and fairy lights? Believe it or not, in other parts of the world, the spruce is not part of the Yuletide tradition. Take India, where banana or mango trees are central to the Christmas decorations. These are adorned with the usual ornaments, while mango leaves are often used to decorate other parts of the house too.
Kentucky Fried Christmas
Thanks to Irish mothers’ love of overfeeding, Christmas dinner is a gut-busting affair in the Emerald Isle. In Japan, however, Christmas dinner takes a very different turn! Gone is the turkey and ham, the roast potatoes and gravy and Brussel sprouts; in their place, you’ll find a festive dinner catered by none other than KFC. Recognising that the Christian holiday was relatively unknown in the East Asian country, this American corporation launched an advertising campaign that painted its food as a central component of any good Christmas dinner. The result? A deep-rooted (and deep-fried) Yuletide family favourite!
Greenland’s Gastronomic Gems
When it comes to unique culinary Christmas treats, though, Greenland takes the cake! Sink your teeth into Mattak, a dish comprising whale skin with a strip of blubber inside. This one-of-a-kind offering, which tastes like coconut, is a holiday favourite, along with barbecued reindeer and kiviak; the latter is the meat of small arctic birds that are buried in seal skin for months until they have seasoned. Christmas cookies and pastries are the perfect way to end the meal, which is served by the men in the family and followed by boisterous games well into the night.