Gauss-Advent Calendar: Strange traditions during Christmas time
by Klara Kapprell
Every year at the beginning of December, Germany’s towns and cities begin to glow. Fairy lights decorate houses and trees, candles are lit, a sweet smell of biscuits, roasted almonds and hot chestnuts is in the air and soft Christmas music sounds from one window or another on the cold streets. Drinking mulled wine at the Christmas market, exchanging Secret Santa gifts, lighting candles on the Advent wreath, bockwurst with potato salad or goose with red cabbage – every country, but also every family, has its own personal traditions at Christmas. Most of them are about a contemplative mood, good food and beautiful music, but some of them are also quite strange…
Hiding brooms in Norway
Norwegians hide their mops and brooms in the house for Christmas Eve. Out of superstition, they fear that witches and evil spirits might steal the brooms and disturb the contemplative peace by taking a spin in the Christmas sky. So off with the broom to the farthest corner – also a good excuse for not having to clean up during the holidays.
Gnomes in Iceland
In Iceland, not one Father Christmas brings the presents, but 13, namely the Jólasveinar, the Icelandic Christmas gnomes. The little gnomes, such as Þvörusleikir (the wooden spoon licker), Hurðaskellir (the door beater) or Kertasníkir (the candle scrounger) bring little presents to the children every day from December 12th. But they can also be quite mean and play tricks on Icelanders. The Christmas cat Jólakötturinn is even said to eat naughty children.
Roller skating in Venezuela
In the Venezuelan capital of Caracas, Christmas Mass is a firm fixture on many families’ schedules. But instead of walking or driving to church, many people slip on their roller skates. Entire streets are cordoned off so that everyone arrives safely at the church.
Christmas cucumber in the USA
The Christmas cucumber is a popular decoration for the Christmas tree in the USA. A green “Christmas Pickle” is hidden among the branches of the tree and on Christmas Day guests go in search for it. Whoever finds the pickle gets an extra present or is simply very lucky. It is unclear where this tradition actually comes from. In the USA, many believe that the cucumber as a Christmas decoration has German roots. In my family, however, a cucumber has never been hung on the Christmas tree.
Lotto in Spain
Hardly any Spanish family is without this tradition at Christmas – the “Lotería de Navidad”. Family, friends and whole villages eagerly await the annual drawing of the Christmas lottery. The winning numbers are announced live on television on December 22nd. In the world’s oldest and largest lottery, billions are distributed and of course everyone hopes for the main prize, “El Gordo” (the fat one).
Ugly Christmas jumpers in England
Apart from Burberry and Vivienne Westwood, the English are not known for their great style. It’s the same at Christmas! That’s when the English wear their “Christmas Jumpers”. The classic Christmas jumpers have a long tradition here and are proudly worn by young and old, both at home and in the pub. But even if you can argue about the beauty of the motifs, you are still prepared for a heating failure on Christmas Eve.