Christmas Around The World : Forget About Carols And Roast Turkey

Huffington Post UK   Cosima Ungaro   First Posted: 23/12/2011 11:24 GMT   Updated: 23/12/2011 12:47 GMT

The Victorians gave us the kind of Christmas we know today, reviving the tradition of carol singing, borrowing the practice of card giving from St. Valentine's day and popularising the Christmas tree.

But if you thought some of our traditions were bizarre - a fat man dressed in a red suit, leaving out mince pies for flying reindeer, having a six-foot tree in your house, cash-strapped students attempting to cook a roast turkey - have a look at some of these which may make you think twice.

Catalonian families are very attached to the defecating figurine they religiously place in their nativity scenes every year. The ‘caganer’ as they call him, is just as important as Mary or Baby Jesus, and a precious symbol of fertility.

Across the Atlantic, KFC won the monopoly of the Christmas meal. The most conventional Japanese habit is to treat the whole family to a good, hearty meal of fried chicken. Roast turkey is so last year.

If you ever end up in Caracas for a tropical Christmas this year, don’t forget to pack your roller-skates as they are the only transportation authorised on Christmas day. You’ll just have to follow the crowd to find the closest church.

And finally, a precious piece of advice: think twice before taking your children to celebrate the arrival of Santa Claus in Austria and Hungary. The Krampus, a popular beastly figure, will be grazing the streets of Vienna or Budapest carrying chains to take bad children to hell. They might never want to celebrate Christmas again.

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The 'caganer' (literally 'defecator') is a feature of Catalan nativity scenes. The figure is usually tucked away in a corner of the model, far away from the manger itself, for children to find. The caganer represents fertility and equality.
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