Holiday Traditions

Tiersa Dodge
DSGW Architects

Old man winter blew in early this year.  Though Thanksgiving has just past, it already feels like time to start thinking about Christmas.  When I think of Christmas I think of tradition.
Whether you are carrying on passed down traditions from Ma and Pa or creating new ones, it’s something to look forward to.  For some of you it may be moving around the mischievous Elf on the Shelf or making long forgotten treats from your homeland.
We are all familiar with the typical traditions of the U.S., though there are many cultures that celebrate the holiday.  So I’d like to share with you some (seemingly strange) traditions beyond our shores.
Catalan region of Spain
El Tio de Nadal or Christmas Log is a character in Catalan mythology.  The custom is to hollow out a log, add legs and a face, then you must feed it daily starting on December 8th, the Feast of Immaculate Conception, then cover it at night so it doesn’t get cold.    On Christmas one puts it in the fireplace and orders it to defecate, while beating with sticks and singing until it releases candies, fruits, and nuts.  When it’s spent, the final object to drop is a salt herring, garlic bulb, or an onion.  Don’t forget to sing the song, it can only help. – I suggest you look that up for yourself!

Czech Republic
Single women toss their shoe on Christmas Eve to know if they will marry the following year.  They turn their back to the front door and toss the shoe over their shoulder.  If the shoe lands with the heel towards the door, she will stay single for the coming year.  If the front of the shoe faces the door, she will marry and move out from her parent’s home in the next year.  Now, it’s unclear what happens if the shoe is turned 90 degrees.  I guess she’d have to wait until the Christmas.

Slovakia and Ukraine
A most messy tradition of throwing food.  Sure does sound like fun though.  At the start of Christmas Eve dinner, the head of the family starts tossing “Loksa”, a traditional dish of bead, poppyseed filling and water, at the ceiling.  The more Loksa that sticks to the ceiling the better the harvest of crops the next year.  Unfortunately for the women of the household, they get the job of cleaning it up.

Caracas, Venezuela
The morning of Christmas Day the streets of Caracas are closed down to car traffic.  The entire city is encouraged to rollerskate to early morning Christmas Mass.  Later in the evening, instead of caroling, people beat drums until the stroke of midnight.  At midnight everyone shouts “Jesus is born” (in Spanish obviously) and light up the sky with fireworks.
The pickle ornament.  The pickle ornament is the last to be hung on the Christmas tree.  Many times it is past down from generation to generation.  It should be hidden when hung-it is green after all, and the first child to find it receives a gift on the morning of Christmas day and good luck for all of the next year.  Though it seems this tradition has become more of a legend these days.
There are many more strange traditions out there, google will fill you in.
At this stage it our lives it prime time to start your own new traditions and choose which to carry on from the past.
In the spirit of the holiday this year, at our home we are starting the tradition of cutting down our own Christmas tree.  What traditions do you hold dear?