Monday, November 28, 2011

It's a Funny Old World Christmas Traditions Edition

Christmas traditions can be utterly hilarious

Ksenia Obraztsova

Shortly before Christmas, many Catalans (residents of Catalonia, Spain) put up little figurines to arrange the Nativity Scene in front of their houses. This is a common tradition both in the United States of America and in Europe. However, somewhere in a corner of this traditional Christmas installation, the Spaniards put a figurine of a little man who is busy defecating. The roots of this tradition are hard to explain, but the Catalans say that there is something reassuring about it.

It used to be a figurine of a common peasant. Nowadays, souvenir shops offer a variety of figurines of defecating starts of Hollywood, sports and politics. The figurines are available in porcelain, paper and even chocolate.

Such figurines are known as caganer (the sh*tter). They don't give it to friends as presents. If a guest wants to be lucky next year, he or she will have to find the pooping man, which the house owners had hidden.

Figurines of US President Barack Obama with his brave slogan "Yes, we can" has been a hit of sales during the recent years. Defecating European politicians are also available.

In Italy, children receive their Christmas presents on January 6th. This is the day when La Befana, the good witch, flies on her broom from one home to another delivering presents to children. For mischievous children, the witch brings cabbage leaves. Legend has it that Befana set off on her journey to the crib of Jesus Christ too late and lost the guiding star out of sight. She has been trying to find baby Jesus since that time so she leaves presents in every home in a hope to find him there.

The festive season starts with the visit of Saint Nicholas. He does not show up in person, as it happens in Germany and Austria. He shows his presents on the bedroom door. The Christmas tree is not a centerpiece of festivities - the crib is (presepio). The Italians hold something like a family lottery on Christmas Eve, when each family member randomly picks a piece of paper with the number of their present written on it. The Italians celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, or Bambino Gesu, on December 25.

In Poland, the Christmas night is a night of miracles. Legend has it that on Christmas Eve, even animals can speak like humans. There are special Christmas traditions in Poland. The Poles put an extra plate on their festive tables for unexpected guests. They serve their table with not less than twelve dishes. They also put a wisp of hay underneath the table. The hay symbolizes the Bethlehem cave in which Jesus Christ was born. The Poles fast the day before Christmas dinner. The dinner starts with the reading of the story of the birth of Jesus Christ.

The incredibly superstitious Icelanders begin their Christmas preparations on December 12. On this day, 13 troll-like creatures come out of their cage in which they live during the whole year with their troll mother and a giant cat.

Every night, one of the trolls roams about the towns and villages spying on people. The trolls leave presents to well-behaved children. They put the presents in their shoes. Each troll has its own name and temper. Some of them licks plates and saucepans clean, another one slams the doors, another one likes to steal smoked lamb from the chimney.

If children misbehaved much during the year, they can be visited by the mother of those trolls - Gryla, or what is even worse - her Christmas cat. Gryla has three eyes, she is all covered with warts and has ugly teeth.

There is a mixture of pagan and Christmas traditions in Mexico. Chaos reigns in the streets of Mexican cities during Christmas days. Children entertain themselves with piƱata - a toy stuffed with fruits and candy. On December 24, many Mexicans gather near churches, where they make fires and arrange fireworks. Pravda


Anonymous said...

"Santa Claus delivers presents on the night of December 24th but Sinterklaas arrives in Holland in the middle of November, does some sightseeing, delivers presents on the 5th of December and returns home in time to enjoy a quiet Christmas."

"May I make it a little bit more complicated?
In some parts of Flanders, there’s yet another saint that gives presents to the children. Saint Martin visits our homes around 11 November, dressed up like Saint Nicholas, but having only one Zwarte Piet, living in Heaven and riding on a donkey… There are even laws to keep all those saints from fighting each other in the streets: up until 11/11, every saint you see in the streets, is Saint Martin. After that, it’s time for Saint Nicholas, and no Santas are allowed on the streets until after 6 December… "

Himself said...

And what might it be for you this year, a present in your shoe, or a piece of coal?

There was a little girl

Who had a pretty curl

Right in the middle of her forehead

When she was good she was very very good

But when she was bad she was fantastic!

Anonymous said...

Good Saint Nich’las is in Holland once again
With his horse and Peter from sunny Spain.
And even if he can’t stay long,
We hope he’ll stop to hear our song.
Dear Saint Nich’las, the door is open wide,
For you and Pete to step inside.
And we’re singing, voices ringing
And our hearts rejoice
‘Cause the Saint loves all good girls and boys.

Nicholas I beg of you
Drop into my little shoe
Something sweet or sweeter,
Thank you Saint and Peter.

Oh, come have a look at
What I’m finding in my boot
A book with pictures and some paint
Thank you lovely Saint.

M (chocolate letter)

Anonymous said...

Only in ...

A solution is always found at the last minute to save the day.

Anonymous said...

Towards a better understanding and to help you survive the madness. A bit of insight into another culture never does any harm, you know.

"Amerigo (don’t ask)"

You’ve eaten your chocolate initial in time to enjoy a quiet Christmas. M

Anonymous said...

Himself said...

I know I don't do PC, but . . .!

Anonymous said...
Have you read the comments?

Anonymous United States

This is disgusting...I love your country so much....but this really is an outright shame...These people should be highly embarrassed. I'm an American, and I experience racism on a daily basis. But this is just unfathomable. It always intrigues me how your extremely progressive country can still have traditions like this. The slave trade should have been enough of an embarrassment for the Netherlands to at least not be still so outwardly racist. Maybe not so progressive after all. Stop making your beautiful country so ugly with such hateful actions.


The whole clip was meant to be a joke. No need to be so political about it.


Actually, the whole clip is political. The article even states that it is a satire which is defined as:
"the use of humor and exaggeration to ridicule and expose stupidity, particularly in the context of contemporary politics".
There is no question that the Zwarte Piet tradition is being ridiculed here. I think that the Groen Brothers did so in a refreshingly light, yet effective manner.

Cultural differences?

Anonymous said...

In a nutshell:

The use of humor and exaggeration to ridicule and expose stupidity, particularly in the context of contemporary politics.

Himself said...

Bonjour bonjour.

It either lost something in translation, or I should have looked at it more critically.

The latter I think.

At least I'm not the only one.