Strange Christmas Traditions Around the World

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Christmas Pickle 

At least some of you readers probably take part in this tradition. Regardless, I’d like to expose how weird it actually is to the public. Imagine a Christmas tree, fully decked out in lights and ornaments. Then you look a little closer and there’s a pickle ornament sneakily placed on the tree. Such is the reality for those who celebrate the Christmas Pickle tradition. Once the tree is fully decorated, the parents place an ornament of a pickle somewhere on the tree. The first kid to find this ornament wins an extra gift or prize. Pretty simple tradition, but why a pickle? Stories vary on the origin of the Christmas Pickle. Some claim the tradition is a very old German legend; however, this could possibly be a myth. Few people in Germany actually know the story of the Christmas Pickle. Another story speaks of an American Civil War prisoner of war requesting a pickle before he died. The guard obliged his request and gave him the pickle, which gave him the strength to survive. Another story ties the pickle to the story of St. Nicholas. The story says St. Nicholas rescued two boys who were trapped in a pickle barrel by an evil innkeeper. The original story writes that the barrel was actually for meat pies. Nonetheless, the story of the Christmas Pickle remains a little-known tradition across the United States. 

The Pooper and The Pooping Log

This tradition is as weird as it sounds. An otherwise ordinary log in Catalonia, Spain, has a devious backstory. Every Christmas season, like strange Thanksgiving turkeys, countless logs are fed various food scraps and leftovers. Why or how this happens remains unknown but bear with me. Also like Thanksgiving turkeys, these logs are mercilessly murdered on Christmas Day. I wish I was joking. These innocent-looking logs are brutally beaten by kids across the region of Catalonia. Why, you might be wondering? Well, these logs are supposed to digest the food scraps they’ve been fed leading up to Christmas and poop it out as candy on Christmas morning. Hence the name “Pooping Log”. Yes, kids in Spain are technically eating poop candy every Christmas. Perhaps this can explain their recent World Cup performance. They call these logs Caga Tió, which directly translates to “poop log” in English. How did this tradition come about? Who knows. Take the candy and don’t ask questions. 

Colonel Santa

Nothing screams Christmas like…Kentucky Fried Chicken? It might not be your grandmother’s traditional holiday meal, but in Japan, it’s become a beloved custom for the whole family to indulge in some of that finger lickin’ good, so-greasy-it’ll-clog-your-arteries fried chicken. The fast food giant has reported that they pulled in around $63 million in Japan during the 2018 Christmas season, and that’s only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the country’s obsession with the chain. KFC has become so synonymous with Christmas in Japan that the white-bearded Colonel Sanders has become the Japanese version of Santa Claus, and statues of the Colonel dressed in Santa’s red robes can be found all over the country when Christmas rolls around. 

Kentucky Fried Chicken may seem like an odd choice for a holiday delicacy in Japan, but considering the restaurant chain’s massive popularity in Japan, it isn’t so shocking that fried chicken and mashed potatoes have become a Christmas staple. In the years after World War II, Japan opened up to the world culturally and economically, and among the many things that flowed into the country from the West were Christmas and KFC. This isn’t all that surprising, considering KFC has arguably had more success than any other American fast food chain in foreign markets. You can find KFCs on every permanently inhabited continent, from Kyrgyzstan to Sudan to Iceland. When KFC came to Japan in 1970, it was an immediate hit, and quickly became associated with American cuisine as a whole. A few series of slick advertising campaigns later, and KFC became associated with Christmas, another American import to Japan. So really, the tradition of “Colonel Santa” was meant to be. It is the perfect combination of postwar capitalism, frying oil, and, of course, a little bit of Christmas magic.

Roller Skating to Church

If you happen to visit the city of Caracas, Venezuela during the Christmas season, you may be met with a strange sight. In this very religious country, going to Mass around the holiday season is important, but less important is how you get there. That’s why you might see hundreds of people roller skating to Mass through the streets of the city. You heard that right- roller skating. The churchgoers of Caracas will slip on their patines, often a few hours before Mass begins, and make their way there with their friends and family. 

The origins of this wacky tradition are still unknown, although many claim that it developed as an alternative to sledding, as Venezuela isn’t exactly known for its snowy weather. In the interest of journalistic excellence, however, we decided to ask Priory’s own Señora Cazabonne, who grew up in Venezuela, about how this tradition came about. “No tengo idea,” she said. I haven’t got a clue. I guess the mystery of the skating churchgoers of Caracas will remain just that, a delightfully strange Christmas mystery.