So this is Christmas, and what have you done? No, really. How have you spent today? Probably tucking into a traditional Christmas dinner, watching lots of festive telly and potentially overdoing it on the old Bucks Fizz. I know I have! My day is pretty much the same every year, but around the world, people celebrate 25 December in many different ways. Let’s take a look…
Caga Tio (Spain)
If you’re in Spain over Christmas, or more specifically the Catalonia region, you’re bound to run into a character called Caga Tio. Caga Tio is, to put it gently, a ‘pooping’ log with a painted on face. The kids in the family are tasked with keeping Caga Tio warm and well-fed in the lead up to Christmas Day, and if they do Mum and Dad will replace him with a larger log every few days until he’s so full he ‘poops’ out lots of little gifts from under his blanket. Who needs St. Nick, eh?
Log rolling (Latvia)
From one Christmas log to the next (sorry), let’s look at the Latvian tradition of the Yule Log. Usually a sturdy piece of oak trunk held with ropes, the log is rolled through each town or village which is meant to collect up all the failures, negative thoughts and bad deeds of the year. Then the log is burnt, symbolising the end of any misfortune and a fresh start. Hundreds of people attend to dance, sing and gather around the roaring fire.
Creepy Krampus (Austria)
You could be forgiven for thinking this tradition was plucked straight from a Halloween horror story, but in fact, Krampus is an important part of Austrian folklore. It’s St. Nicholas’ evil, horned half-goat half-demon sidekick of course, come to snatch the naughty children away in his sack or whip them with birch sticks. People dress up as this treacherous creature (masks and all) and parade around terrifying kids, because nothing quite says ‘Merry Christmas’ like crying children.
Kentucky Fried Christmas (Japan)
Born from a dream in the 70s, Takeshi Okawara (the manager of the first KFC in Japan) is now responsible for the fact around 3.6 million families treat themselves to a bucket of fried chicken on Christmas Day. In a country where just 1% of people are Christian, there’s no fixed tradition, which is where Colonel Sanders comes in. Nowadays, KFC Christmas buckets have to be ordered months in advance to avoid disappointment. Overall, they make up a third of annual sales!
Cookie swap (Canada)
While many Canadians claim that Santa Claus himself originated in their country, it’s no surprise the Great White North really goes to town when it comes to Christmas. One of their many signature Christmas celebrations is cookie baking parties where families create and decorate some sweet, festive treats before trading them with others, so everyone gets a delicious mixed batch to enjoy over the holidays. Sounds like a tradition I could definitely get behind.
Could you be tempted to try out one of these celebrations next year? Do you have any traditions in your family you’d love to share? Let me know in the comments below.