When you think of the holidays you often think of turkey, cranberry sauce and holiday cookies. For many the Menorah and Christmas trees are traditions to celebrate the holidays. There are many unusual traditions celebrated all around the world. Here’s a list of a few that you may not know about.
In Greenland: The traditional meal consists of mattak and kiviak. Mattak is a raw whale skin which consist of blubber. Kiviak is a delicatessen of seal skin and wrapping it around a small arctic bird and burying it for several months and eating its decomposed flesh.
In Japan: For many Japanese, their traditional holiday dinner is Kentucky Fried Chicken. Japanese ovens are often tiny and many cannot hold large poultry. There are Colonel Sanders statues outside of KFC restaurants that are dressed up in Santa gear. Reservations are needed for dining in at KFC restaurants in Japan on Christmas day.
In Ukraine: Ukrainians celebrate the season with elaborate decorations. They often decorate with artificial spider webs on the trees. This tradition began with a tale of a poor woman who couldn’t afford to decorate her tree and woke on Christmas morning to discover that a spider had covered her tree with a shiny web. It represents good luck and many Ukrainians still decorate their trees and homes with artificial spider webs.
In Norway: Norwegians believe that Christmas Eve coincides with the arrival of evil spirits and witches. Norwegian households hide their brooms before they go to sleep so witches can’t use their brooms to fly around.
In Austria: In Austria St Nicholas has an evil counterpart called Krampus. Krampus is a demon like creature who will punish bad children.
In Guatemala: In Guatemala it is believed that the devil and evil spirits live in the dark in dirty corners of your home. The week before Christmas is spent sweeping and collecting unwanted items then setting the pile on fire. The tradition of the “Burning of the Devil” represents the burning all the bad from the year before and start a new year from the ashes.
In Venezuela: The week leading up to Christmas Venezuelans attend church daily. It is customary to get to church by roller skates. Many communities have blocked off streets to vehicles to ensure the safety of the roller skaters.
In Catalonia: The folks in Catalonia create a character out of a log. They draw a face on it and dress it up with hats. They feed the log nuts and fruits and sweets. They then beat their log friend with sticks.
In Portugal: The traditional feast always has extra place settings at the table to represent deceased relatives. It is believed that this will bring good fortune for the entire family.
In Germany: German children leave a pair of boots or shoes outside their bedroom. In the morning the boots and shoes will be filled with treats if they were good. If they haven’t been good then the boots will be filled with a log or branches.
Looking for a new tradition this holiday season? Are you brave enough to try mattak? Try to incorporate a new tradition from afar this holiday season. However you choose to celebrate. Happy Holidays