Wrap up warm in your Smallpox Blanket and follow me on a trip around the world.
Kūčios are a Lithuanian Christmas Eve tradition of 12 Lenten dishes (veggy + fish). It is commonly thought that the 12 dishes are for the 12 apostles, but the tradition dates from pre-Christian times, and has, like all such things, been adopted into Catholicism. The meal starts with the rising of the first star, and a candle is lit for ancestral souls. For the Pagans, libations are done; for the Christians, consecrated wafers are a must have. A legend also tells that on the night of Christmas Eve, farm animals gain the gift of speech.
2. Bonfires on the levee
On the other side of the world, in Louisiana, the Great River Road boasts Christmas bonfires on the levees. The given reason for the bonfires (apart from because it’s a cool tradition) is to light the way for Papa Noel to find the homes of the good girls and boys.
3. Zwarte Piet
Bonus points to the Dutch for the most triggering Christmas tradition. Zwarte Piet is part of the annual feast of Eve of St Nicholas Day (Dec 5). He gives sweets to children. He a good boy and he dindu nuffin.
4. La Befana
La Befana is an Italian witch/fairy, who gives presents to kids on the Epiphany (Jan 6). Legend says she wanted to offer gifts to baby Jesus but couldn’t find him… so I guess any good child will do.
Krampus is the bad cop to St Nick’s good cop. He’s a beastly demon that roams around frightening kids and punishing the bad ones by whisking them away in a sack (allegedly to Podesta’s house). Traditionally, young men dress up as the Krampus the eve of St Nicholas Day, frightening children with clattering chains and bells.
6. Jólasveinar the Christmas Lads
In the 13 days before Christmas, 13 tricksy trolls come out to play in Iceland. They’re nice guys, really. The Yule Lads (I hope they travel on the banter bus) leave gifts for the good ‘uns and rotting potatoes for the bad ‘uns. 13 gifts! Those Icelanders sure are spoiled.
7. Hiding brooms
In the land of Skyrim, Norway, there’s a tradition that withes and evils spirits come out on Christmas Eve to look for brooms to ride on. So, the Nords hide their broomsticks. What a strange people!
8. Barbie on the beach
Down under in Dingoland, things are a bit different, as Christmas lands slap bang in the summer. Forget ugly sweaters, snow, and hot chocolate, and say hello to the barbie on the beach! Bondi Beach is supposed to be the place to go if you’re visiting Oz at the time, but I’m sure the local pool party will know a place less travelled.
9. Spiderwebs on Christmas Trees
Christmas and spiders? What? In Ukraine, there’s a legend of the Christmas Spider (gross), who can spin tinsel (ok, not so gross). Therefore, Christmas trees are decorated with artificial spider webs. Finding a real or fake spider on a web is supposed to bring luck. Nope.jpg
10. Joulupukki the Christmas Goat
The Finns, weird Asiatic off-whites that they are, do things differently. Want a jolly old man giving your child presents? Nah, how about a goat instead? So the squinty-eyed Finnish children await the arrival of Joulupukki (aka Christmas Goat).