by Deanna Darr
Christmas traditions come in as many varieties as there are holiday cookies to enjoy.
There are the heartwarming ones—like caroling and hot chocolate or even a quick smooch under the mistletoe—but then there are the other, more odd traditions.
In Austria, there’s the always popular Krampus, which comes to beat the bejusus out of misbehaving children (and are guaranteed to give kids a major complex). The fact that it’s also called the “Christmas devil” gives you an idea of its sinister nature. Of course, this comes from the same part of the world that brought us the Christmas pickle.
There are also a disturbing number of European traditions that include defecating for some odd reason, including the Caganer and the Caga Tio in Spain. The Caganer is the resident of the tiny holiday village display who couldn't find a restroom in time, while the Caga Tio is a "pooping log" that children stuff, dress up, and then beat with a stick to force it "release" their presents—all while singing a jaunty little song.
And apparently in the Czech Republic, women can learn their future marital status by chucking a shoe toward a door, which makes only slightly less sense than the tradition in Caracas, Venezuela, of roller skating to church on Christmas morning.
And while some traditions hold that animals can speak at midnight on Christmas, you might not want to hear what Iceland's Jolakotturinn, or the Yule Cat, would have to say. Apparently, this is a cat that comes to eat children who haven’t worked hard enough. Hello, nightmares.
And lest you think all these odd traditions are just a European thing, look no farther than Saratoga Springs, N.Y., where locals smash peppermint candy pigs with small hammers to mark the holiday.
And don’t even get us started on Black Peter.
There, now, doesn't your family seem a lot more sane?