Christmas inspires some weird and down-right frightening traditions.
The holiday was implemented close to the winter solstice to make those crazy pagans stop worshiping their gods and start worshipping Jesus. But, quite a few pagan traditions stuck and are celebrated, in some form, today.
The half-goat, half-demon from your nightmares is here. Krampus punishes children who misbehave. He makes his appearance in several regions of Europe, including Austria, Bavaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovenia and Northern Italy.
FRIENDS & FIENDS – this Wednesday 13th I’ll be teaching puppet making, and, as a giant black cat crossed my path earlier, we’ll be concentrating on #jólakötturinn! . Pay on the door if online access is tricky. £10, 2-5pm, @FreeSpaceProj, Kentish Town. . https://www.eventbrite.com/e/festive-folklore-puppet-making-workshop-tickets-39976166791
In Icelandic folklore, a monstrous cat eats anyone that doesn’t receive new clothes before Christmas eve. Home-knit sweaters don’t sound so bad anymore.
In Christmas markets across Europe, especially in Germany and the Czech Republic, vendors sell dried up fruits decorated as people. This tradition likely started as make-shift toys for children and today they’re good luck symbols. They look shifty though if you ask me.
A log that poops presents
Caga tio is somewhat of a sad little log. It’s a tradition found mostly in Catalonia, a northeastern region of Spain. Children take care of a log, keeping it warm with a blanket and “feeding” it. On Christmas eve or Christmas day, the log is burned and beat with sticks to make it defecate presents.
There’s also a song children sing while they’re beating the log.
Now, stay with me here, it’s not as weird as it sounds.
Ok, the logs are creepy. And yes, hitting a log with a stick and singing at it to make it poop is not a normal way to celebrate love, peace and joy. But it turns out it’s kind of cute.
Little kids more-or-less tap the log and sing a song that sounds like a nursery rhyme. Once they’re done, they lift the blanket and react with joy when they discover Christmas presents underneath.
Weird and adorable.
What does every nativity scene need? Someone shitting in the corner, of course. Caganer are defecating figures, sold and put in nativity scenes in Catalonia and areas neighboring Catalonia, including Southern France, Portugal and even Southern Italy.
No one knows the exact origin of caganer. Maybe it represents good luck, maybe it brings the divine down to a human level, maybe it represents all of us after we’ve had one to many beers.
Traditional caganer are Catalan peasants, but every year new caganer are made from famous figures including politicians, the Mona Lisa, the Simpsons and Star Wars characters. You know you’ve made it big when a caganer is made in your likeness.