Uh...We know seeing is believing, though if distance is a factor and you can't see for yourself how weird and wacky these traditions are, we are stepping in to bring these strange sights straight to you! So read on, and brace yourself for what you're about to witness!
For some of you, familiar with one or a few of these traditions, they may not seem all that weird. In fact, for all we know, you participate in them annually, your ancestors were founders, or you’ve journeyed far and wide just to attend the event! I mean, Lomography has its own tradition of decking the Lomography Online Shop in weird designs that, you may not know, when viewed requires the viewer to do things such as kiss whoever is standing by!
Hm…The Lomography team here in Vienna should take a trip to the southeastern Austrian city of Graz for this! Though, besides wanting to spend the holidays with loved ones and not the demonic Krampus, I’d imagine some would be too scared to seek out the Krampus in case they are snatched and stuffed in the Krampus’ sack of
presents naughty children!
2. Caga Tió
A tradition of presenting Christmas presents, stemming from Catalonia, the autonomous community in northeastern Spain. The song, as seen below, is sung while using sticks to hit the log, which represents a mythological character, to make him expel the food that the family has been feeding him since the 8th of December. What’s expelled are the Christmas presents, hidden under a large blanket that covers the log’s behind!
Translation of the Caga Tió song being sung in the video:
hazelnuts and cottage cheese,
if you don’t poop well,
I’ll hit you with a stick,
The original can be found in the Wikipedia entry Tió de Nadal.
3. Dress Like Santa Day
The world renowned ski resort, Whistler Blackcomb, holds a Dress Like Santa Day (this year on 17 December) where they offer the first 75 Claus clad skiers a free lift ticket. What a sight these Santas must bring, skiing alongside one another in their red and black outfits, against the snow-white backdrop! Besides wanting to ski on the popular slopes, you can also engage in a great game of ’Where’s Santa?’ (think Where’s Wally?)
4. Mari Lwyd
This Welch tradition or ritual, also known as ‘Gray Mary’, takes place on or around New Year’s Day.
One person dresses up as a horse (the costume consisting of a mare’s skull and a white sheet, with colored ribbons, fixed around the skull to cover the person underneath. He or she is led, door to door, by a group of others who knock, sing songs, challenge occupants with verses made up on the spot, and after the battle of wits, the mare is invited in for food, drink and often more songs.
And the historical BBC video seen above is a real treat! The good audio, black and white picture that makes the mare’s white sheet really stand out, and time stamp of 1966, truly makes it a great viewing experience!
5. Frozen Dead Guy Days
You’ve invited to party with a bunch of cool Coloradans and “Grandpa Bredo”, who they are very fond of! Doesn’t sound the least bit strange or suspicious, does it? Well, it should strike you, like an icepick striking an ice-block, as Grandpa Bredo is not a jolly old man but an ice king…. For crying out loud, he’s a cryogenically frozen body!
At the festival (and it is indeed much like a festival, with beer tents and attendance of around 15,000 people!) there are weird activities such as the ‘coffin race’, in which participants act as pallbearers, caring a coffin through an obstacle course, dressed in wacky costumes as seen in the video below!
Also called ‘Santarchy’, unlike most of the others featured in this list, these events happen across the globe and at different times, though mostly around Christmas. The gathering is wacky as all attendees dress up in Santa suits that are often modified, such as the Desaturated Santa (who makes an appearance in the video below), as the gathering promotes creativity and aims to spread cheer by the amusing sight of a parade of Santas roaming around cities in broad daylight!
7. Cobweb Christmas Trees
Some Ukrainians decorate their Christmas trees, not with cotton wool but cobwebs! No, it’s not because they want to extend Halloween, trying to hold on to its remnants by integrating it into the holiday that falls next, but because of a folk tale in which it’s said good spiders (much like the shoemakers elves, or Charlotte from Charlotte’s Web) decorated the trees of poor families. But don’t feel sad, today, the cobwebs that adorn trees are often special, and made from crystal!
8. The Yule Log
In this day and age, with waning space, electric heating is often favored over fire. Because of these factors, the flames found rising up off a freshly chopped log is rare, yet even today, we can’t shake the ‘fireplace’ association when Christmas time, and stories of Santa Claus coming down a chimney, roll around. So what to do?
An ingenious New York television channel broadcasts 24 hours of a burning log in a fireplace, on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. This annual tradition, that hopefully doesn’t have you transfixed to your screen, as fire embers can be mesmerizing, has been burning bright since 1966!
Read more about the WPIX TV program here!
9. A City Rollerskates to Christmas Mass
This has become a tradition for the church going population of the capital city of Venezuela, Caracas, out of necessity! The largely Catholic population attends morning mass, during the weeks leading up to Christmas. Owing to the traffic, people roll on to Church in a pair of roller skates! What else is interesting is that kids tie a long piece of string to their big toe, that they dangle out the window when they go to bed so that those staking by the next morning tug on them to wake them up!
10. La Befana
It’s not Santa Claus but an old lady who rides a broom, not a sled, and looks like the popular depiction of a witch, that delivers gifts to children in parts of Italy, to which the folkloric character is native! She brings sweet treats and presents to good children and lumps of coal or dark candy to those who’ve been naughty. Instead of milk and cookies, a small glass of wine and some food is left for the visitor!
You can read about variations of the legend, including one that’s mighty dark, here!
While we have dubbed them ‘strange’, these traditions aren’t strange to those who call them their own. So, with this in mind, tell us which traditions you find strange, as a stranger to them!