Mar 18, 2018 (Akademos, Inc.)
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Unique Christmas Traditions

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. when no one can complain that you skipped Thanksgiving and have had a Christmas tree lit nightly in your window since late October. Get lights on your house, put plastic characters in your yard and go all out for one of America’s favorite holidays.

Christmas comes with its share of traditions – from trees to lights to a ham lunch and so on.

However, with every commonly shared tradition comes an family’s wacky, unique tradition that makes the holiday a little more special.

But these crazy traditions don’t occur just in the U.S. In fact, they are more unique outside the States.

Top Tenz, a website dedicated to compiling lists to varied top-10 things, released the Top 10 Wacky Christmas Traditions From Around the World on Dec. 25, 2014, and the list is definitely worth revisiting.

10. The Santa Claus Olympics (Switzerland)

Forget one Santa Clause, let’s talk about hundreds of Chris Kringle impersonators running around the small town of Samnaun, which is the converging point of Italy, Austria and Switzerland. Aspiring Santa Clauses meet here annually for a competition that includes singing, dancing, sleigh racing, snow sculpting and chimney climbing. The only requirements for competing are you have to be at least 18 years old, a kid at heart and shameless.

9. Santa Clause on a Canoe (Hawaii)

Of course Santa is put on a canoe in Hawaii. The Aloha State enjoys Christmas by having picnics and luaus and exercising in a range of watersports, such as surfing and swimming. That’s not the only difference – Hawaiians also believe Santa delivers presents on a bright-red canoe that’s pulled by dolphins.

8. Eating Caterpillars (Africa)

Caterpillars are seen as a delicacy in certain parts of southern African, so they are eaten on special occasions, including Christmas. The caterpillars are preserved traditionally by boiling them in salt water then dried in the sun or smoking them. The process is claimed to enhance the flavor.

7. Visiting the Dead (Finland)

This Finnish tradition seems a little more fitting for Halloween, but they make it work in December. Christmas in Finland is dedicated to visiting the graves of loved ones. People traditionally light candles by gravestones, which when combined for a bigger pictures creates quite an effect. It’s said that the warmth of the candles creates a breath-taking scene and an atmosphere that’s tranquil.

6. Burning of Thorns (Iraq)

It turns out they celebrate Christmas in Iraq, but that’s not the strange tradition. Christian children in Iraq every Christmas Eve read the story of Jesus’ birthday from an Arabic Bible while parents and other family members listen and hold lit candles. After the story, one of the family members lights a pile of thorns while the others sing a hymn. If the thorns turn to ash it’s said all members of the family will receive blessings or good fortunes the following year.

5. Two Santa Clauses: Pere Noel and St. Nicholas (Belgium)

Sometimes one Santa doesn’t do it. Belgium natives speak French or Waloon, which creates the need for two Santas. The French-speaking Belgians are visited by Pere Noel and his assistant Pere Fouettard. Good kids get candies and chocolates, while bad kids receive twigs or even spankings from Pere Fouettard. Those that speak Waloon are visited by St. Nicholas, who comes on Dec. 4 and 6 – presents come on the second trip. Pere Noel and St. Nicholas are two different Christmas figures, and St. Nicholas was a real person.

4. Arrival of the Three Kings (The Philippines)

The Filipinos don’t mess around when it comes to Christmas. They’ll begin celebrating as early as September and continue through January. However, in the Philippines, Santa Clause hasn’t always had meaning. Instead, for hundreds of years, the Three Kings were the primary bringers of presents. Children place clean socks and polished shoes on their home’s window in hopes the Three Kings deliver gifts on their way to Bethlehem. However, the practice is barely used today because of the influence of America’s cultural obsession with Santa Clause.

3. Advent of the Masked Visitors (Latvia)

Latvia citizens take Christmas a completely different way an Americans. For them, Christimas is a chance to drive out bad spirits. The act is down from a tradition called “mumming,” in which participants dress in various costumes, such as fortune tellers, wolves, cranes, goats, bears, horses, and roam from house to house. Families anticipate participants, known as “mummers,” and welcome them in their homes, but before entering must sing and dance. Upon entry, mummers are given food and beer.

2. Leftovers for the Dead (Bulgaria)

This tradition is similar to Portugal’s “consoda,” in which families set an extra place at the table on Christmas morning to pay respect to the dead. Basically, they’re inviting their dead loved ones to eat with them. In Bulgaria, however, it’s different in that their meal on Christmas Eve doesn’t have an extra spot at the table for the dead. Instead, the table is not to be cleared after the meal so the ghosts of loved ones can feast on the leftovers.

1. Throwing Food at the Ceiling (Slovakia and Ukraine)

Folks in Slovakia and Ukraine have found a strange reasoning to have a food fight. Families on Christmas Eve sit down for a typical dinner except before eating the head of the table takes a small amount of Loksa and throws it at the ceiling. It’s believed this predicts how big and rich their crops will be the following year. The more Loksa that sticks, the bigger and richer crops will be.

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