Think Holidays, and you would probably think of a white Christmas, shopping, decorations, presents under the tree and ball drops. But, how about having fried caterpillars, roller-skating and flying witches as part of your Holiday traditions? Sounds unnatural? A tour of the most unusual Holiday celebrations around the world will certainly fix that.
Fun and bonfires
If you can’t get your kids to attend mass, take them to Caracas, Venezuela. The streets are shut down on Christmas Eve, so you can safely roller-skate to church. Love lights? Head over to the City of San Fernando, Philippines a Saturday before Christmas Eve. Take part in the Giant Lantern Festival, where lanterns can go up to 40 feet in diameter and hold over 4000 light bulbs. Also, don’t expect a present until you’ve polished your shoes and left them by the window sill.
Closer home in Colombia, a more low-scale Little Candles’ Day celebration ushers in the season. You can compete with neighbors as you light up your windows, balconies and front yards with candles or lanterns. If you really want to make a statement, head to Quema Del Diablo in Guatemala on December 7. People here sweep their homes, heap up the trash in the street, crown it with effigies of Satan, and let it burn!
There is a whole list of traditions that can give you the chills during the Holidays. For instance, people in Santa’s hometown, Finland visit their buried loved ones at sunset on Christmas Eve. In Ukraine, decorating your Christmas tree with spider webs brings good luck. Italy relies on a gift-giving witch ‘Befana’ to deliver presents on Epiphany Day (January 5) each year.
From December 12 to 23, 13 Yule Lads (trolls) accompany Santa to punish naughty kids in Iceland. Misbehaving kids in Germany get a whip from Knecht Ruprecht on December 6. And, in Austria, Santa’s devilish sidekick, Krampus is trusted with disciplining duties.
But, it doesn’t matter if you’ve been naughty or nice in South Africa, you will still be treated to a feast of fried caterpillars! In comparison, Japan’s tradition of celebrating December 25th with a bucket of KFC sounds far more appetizing.
Illustration credit : Marie Muravski