What makes Christmas so special are all the old familiar traditions: Decorating the house. The family dinner. Singing carols. Opening the presents pooped out by a magic log. Getting drunk and going to your neighbor’s house with a sheet over your head to get drunker. Hanging the stockings.
If a few of those sound out of place it could just be where you live. People around the world have Christmas celebrations that might shock you, here’s a few of our favorite strange Christmas customs.
The Spanish Poop Log That Poos Out Presents
Yeah Santa’s great and all, but does he really compare to a log that you beat until it defecates presents? In Spain’s Catalan region a hollow log with a face called the Caga tió (which translates as “poop log”) is set up as a Christmas decoration and “fed” by the children until Christmas Eve. Then the kids beat it with sticks and it uhhhh passes small gifts and sweets.
The Ghostly Welsh Horse Skeleton That Visits Your Home
No, no, no, no, no, no, no
This is the Mari Lwyd, a life-size puppet made from a horse skull carried on a pole by a person hiding in a costume. Throughout the Christmas season, it’s brought door-to-door by revelers. Why? Because…nothing says Christmas more than a terrifying Zombie Horse nightmare that intrudes into your home.
Delicious Kentucky Fried Chicken in Japan
Christmas has been catching on as a non-religious holiday in Japan. What many might find odd is Kentucky Fried Chicken is eaten as a “traditional” Christmas Day supper. It’s so popular on that date that many are forced to reserve their KFC months in advance of December 25th to be sure they get their bucket of chicken.
Louisiana’s Bonfires on the Levees
Up and down the Mississippi levees in Louisiana, huge wooden trestles are constructed and then set aflame once the sun goes down on Christmas Eve. Then this striking sight is made even more impressive with fireworks. No one’s quite sure of the origins of this visually beautiful tradition, but it’s said the bonfires are to light the way for “Papa Noel,” the Cajun Santa Claus, on his journey through the region.
Visiting Cemeteries & Feeding the Dead in Finland
To American ears spending Christmas Eve lighting candles on graves in a snowy cemetery sounds downright ghoulish. But in Finland, the majority of the country visit their dead relatives on the evening of December 24th. Also, many families set a plate and leave an empty chair at their Christmas dinners for any ghosts who feel like dropping by.
The Burning of the Swedish Straw Christmas Goat
The goat is a symbol of Christmas in Sweden and many children receive their presents not from Santa, but from the magic Yule Goat. Giant goats made from straw are erected in public places as holiday decorations with the best known being in the town of Gävle. This one is famous because for decades vandals have burnt it down. Though this arson isn’t condoned by local officials it’s become such a part of Christmas that live cams are fixed on the goat and bookmakers take bets by what date it’ll burn by.
Drunken Adult Trick-or-Treating in Canada
On the isolated Canadian island of Newfoundland, an ancient Christmas tradition called Mummering still exists. It consists of getting pie-eyed, then donning homemade costumes to travel door-to-door singing Christmas songs and demanding food and drink. It’s like rowdy adult trick-or-treating, but on the wrong holiday.
Personally, for our holiday we just stick to classic and totally-not-bizarre traditions like setting up a live tree in our living room or getting wasted and arguing with our uncle about refugees. But if there are any peculiar Christmas celebrations we didn’t mention please bring them up in the comments section below!