By RANDAL C. HILL
More than 160 countries around the world celebrate Christmas. Overseas and elsewhere, some holiday traditions may seem wonderfully weird—and may be even a bit bizarre. For some chuckles, let’s check out the yearly happenings in:
Slovakia: During Christmas Eve dinner, the oldest male resident tosses a spoonful of loksa
pudding (a mixture of sweetened poppy seeds, bread and water) onto the ceiling—the more that sticks, the better his crops or business will do during the next year.
Guatemala: Each neighborhood
sweeps dirt into one large pile, then plants
an effigy of the Devil on top before setting
it on fire.
Norway: Brooms are hidden to keep witches from finding them and riding off into the Christmas Eve night.
New Zealand: Summertime Santa
often appears in “jandals” (New Zealand
sandals) and an All Blacks (their national
rugby team) shirt. Kids leave beer and
pineapple chunks for Mr. Claus, and
carrots for his reindeer.
Venezuela: Caracas closes streets to all traffic on Christmas Eve because of the many city dwellers who roller-skate—nobody seems to know why—to late-night Mass.
England: The idea of kissing under
the mistletoe began here. Refusing a
smooch was said to bring bad luck.
Greenland: Folks enjoy holiday treats of mattak (a.k.a. muktuk, whale skin with a strip of blubber inside) and kiviak, the raw flesh of auks (a type of Arctic bird) which have been buried whole in sealskin for seven months until they have reached a certain level
of decomposition. (Seconds, anyone?)
Germany: Each December 5th, German children, both good and naughty, leave a shoe outside the house. They awake to find the shoe stuffed with either yummy sweets or a tree branch.
Canada: Kids are encouraged to send Santa
letters at the address HOHOHO. All letters received are answered by thousands of volunteers who donate their time.
Czech Republic: Some folks fast on Christmas Eve in the hope that they will visualize a golden pig—a sign of good luck—appearing on a wall before dinner.
South Africa: After residents enjoy a traditional Christmas Day meal, they eagerly dig into after-dinner treats of plump, fuzzy caterpillars that have been fried in oil.
Makes you wonder if some of our own Christmas traditions might seem
strange to others, as well?