Ever given a thought about Christmas traditions? The odd, the strange, or perhaps just where they came from?
For example did you know that in 1891, wishing to pay for a charity dinner, a crab pot was set out on a street in San Francisco creating the very first Salvation Army collection kettle? Or did you know that "Jingle Bells" was suppose to be a Thanksgiving song called "One Horse Open Sleigh"?
In Finland, Santa (Joulupukki), does not live at the North Pole but instead in the northern part of Finland. On Christmas Eve the family puts on their coats and go to the cemetery with candles and a song to honor the dead. Adding to the confusion, is that Santa travels by whatever means necessary. Apparently he has everything from his sleigh and eight reindeer, snowmobile, helicopter, cars, scooter, to whatever he needs.
Meanwhile, in Brazil, Papai Noel, wears a silk red suit and lives in Greenland. In a tale of the manger story, the shapely shepherdess's come to view the baby Jesus who is kidnapped by an evil Gypsy. Don't worry. He is saved by the three wise men. Next door in Venezuela, in Caracas, the streets are blocked so people can roller skate to church.
Belgium has not one Santa, but two. St. Nicholas and Pere Noel. St. Nicholas shows up early and determines which children have been bad. This occurs on December 4th. Bad kids get dirty sticks in their stockings. Good kids get a visit from Pere Noel. Speaking of stockings, in Australia, children leave a shoe out for their Christmas goodies. Does this mean that suddenly every four-year-old in the land wears a size 16 quadruple E boot?
Armenians have a lovely meal on Christmas Eve. It consists of fried fish, lettuce and spinach. I have no idea why this is the traditional meal. Not as bad as the first English Christmas meal which was a pig's head with mustard. The English have always had a way with cuisine and not in a good way. Don't forget this is the land of blood pudding for Christmas.
In Italy, it's not Santa but La Befana, a kindly witch. She was apparently invited by the wise men to come see the birth of Jesus and turned them down. She was busy. Having missed the birth, she now roams from house to house, leaving gifts, and asking for directions to the baby. She rides a broom down the chimney, by the way.
In the Ukraine, an artificial spider and web are included in the tree decorations. It is considered good luck to find a spider and web on Christmas morning. In Norway all the brooms are hidden to prevent mischievous spirits and witches who come out on Christmas Eve from stealing and riding them. No La Befana for the Norwegians. By the way, if you have a friend in Japan, don't send them a red Christmas card. It is bad etiquette since funeral notices are also in red.
Gotta love Christmas traditions. If you've decided for fun to give the gifts of the Twelve Days of Christmas, you will end up giving 364 gifts. And you thought all the gifts the grand parents shower on the grand kids was bad.
My thanks for the research done on these sites: