Forget Santa and forget turkey, these two staples of holiday celebrations in Northern America are overlooked in favour of the slightly more bizarre interesting (who are we to judge?!) traditions in countries around the globe…
Krampus – A lump of coal?! Pah, you should be so lucky! This TRULY terrifying mythical creature (think demonic goat) recognized in Alpine countries in Europe, seeks out naughty children, stuffs them into its child catching sack before devouring them for Christmas supper. If you want to keep him sweet, he won’t be bought with the standard milk and cookies, the Krampus apparently likes his schnapps. The Krampus ‘celebration’ commonly takes place in countries like Austria in the first week of December, where people dress up as the creature and take to the streets frightening children with rusty chains and bells! Good grief, they must have the best behaved children in the world.
Spider webs – No they haven’t confused the festive season with Halloween. In the Ukraine, it’s quite common to find decorative spider webs hanging from Christmas trees. This tradition stems from a fairy tale style story whereby a family who were too poor to decorate their tree, awoke one morning to find that spiders had spun a beautiful web around their evergreen. As the sun rose, shards of light hit the threads making them sparkle – who needs tinsel and fairy lights?
Witches – In Italian folklore, La Befana is a witch who visits Children on the eve of the Feast of Epiphany (5th January) to deliver gifts if they’ve been well behaved, or a lump of coal (or garlic or onion) if they’ve been bad! Le Befana is armed with a broom which she’s not afraid to use to thump people who spy her leaving gifts. And it’s this broom she’ll use to sweep your floors before departing your house, being the conscientious housekeeper she apparently is. Families commonly leave La Befana wine and a few morsels of local food.
KFC – Who knew? Apparently KFC is big in Japan during the holiday season. Instead of ordering your turkey, imagine putting in an order for your bucket of chicken a month in advance. Apparently this is common place in Japan following a marketing campaign in the 1970s called “Kurisumasu ni wa kentakkii!” (Kentucky for Christmas!)
If you know of any more interesting holiday facts or traditions we’d love to hear them – simply leave a comment below!
However you celebrate the holidays, we at Sandman Hotel Group would like to take this opportunity to wish you and yours all the very best for the festive season and a prosperous 2012! We look forward to seeing you soon.