‘Tis the season to be wacky, tra la la la la, la la la la.
Winter isn’t complete without Christmas, and Christmas isn’t complete without these odd and slightly terrifying traditions that are celebrated all over the world.
1. The Krampusnacht Festival
Why would anyone spread Christmas joy when they can spread Christmas terror instead? Austrians definitely do not play around. Christmas celebrations here don’t just involve boring old jolly Santa Claus. One of the most exciting things Christmas brings is Krampus, an animalistic demon of debatable origins, that prowls through Central Europe around the end of the year. The Krampusnacht Festival celebrates this evil creature, who has “flaming coals for eyes, matted fur and twisting stag horns who slaps people with birch twigs and kidnaps children in a large sack or casket so he can later drown or eat them”.
2. Kentucky Fried Christmas
You know sometimes, with the Japanese you can never tell what’s coming and neither can you begin to have logical explanations about why they do the things they do. Every Christmas, (which is supposed to be day of turkey dinners and mistletoe kisses) the Japanese have a long standing tradition of heading to their neighbourhood KFC and pigging out on buckets of fried chicken. What started as a brilliant marketing campaign by the American franchise, turned out to be a yearly ritual passed down from generation to generation, which sells over 240000 barrels of chicken and serves an estimate of 3.6 million families on Christmas day. So odd to think that in Japan, Christmas equals KFC, right?
3. Santa Con
SantaCon is the largest flash-mob-slash-bar crawl of Santas ever to exist. Come mid-December, around 311 cities in 42 countries, will host SantaCon which features merry revellers dressed in Santa suits, getting more intoxicated by the hour. Sounds like a jolly good time, yes? The festival began during the Christmas of 1994 in San Francisco, and it drew inspiration from an article which mentioned a Danish group of people dressed in crimson suits and robbing a local store. Now, though no one really robbed a store, they did start to dress up in Santa suits and parade all over the city, stopping at bars when they were ‘thirsty’.
“Santacon is a charitable, non-commercial, non-political, nonsensical Santa Claus convention that happens once a year for absolutely no reason.”
The festival has grown into an urban Christmas tradition of sorts, having travelled to various cities and countries by now. Every year from December 14 to 22 or just before Christmas, San Francisco, Montreal, New York City, Paris, Hamburg, Sydney, Beijing and Tokyo gather their best Santas for this merry Christmas celebration.
4. Go bananas, this Christmas (?!?)
Around 25 million Christians live in India, a country that doesn’t produce Douglas furs in abundance, quite obviously. So in a way to represent their heritage as well as celebrate a bright and merry Christmas, people from parts of Southern Indian often use Banana and Mango trees to deck up.
5. Skate your way to Christmas Mass
Christmas is easily the most important holiday in Venezuela, as 80 per cent of the population is Christian, 71 per cent of which are of the Roman Catholic faith. Christmas in Venezuela includes all the traditional rituals of the holiday, but in the capital city of Caracas you can roller-skate your way to mass on the 25th morning. Children go to bed on the 24th with strings tied to their toes (with the other end of the string hung outside their windows). The next morning, roads are cleared for the big roller skating derby about to take place. The people who roller skate to churches often tug at the strings hanging outside bedroom windows as a customary tradition.
6. Spidey Christmases
In Ukraine Christmas decorations come with a slightly creepy twist. Instead of twinkly tree ornaments, the people of Ukraine often deck their Christmas trees with fake spiders and spider webs. The origin of this tradition comes from a legend of a poor widowed woman who made an effort to decorate a Christmas tree for her children outside the family hut. But with the lack of money, the children were left with a plain fir tree and no presents eventually crying themselves to sleep. Once asleep, the spiders living in the hut felt sorry for the family and began to weave beautiful and intricate gold and silver webs around the Fir. The family awoke to find this and were overjoyed. Ever since, Christmas trees have been decorated this way, with the tradition going as far as to deem it lucky if a spider is spotted on Christmas Eve.