Have a read here on some of the weirdest Christmas traditions in the world!
In folklore, Krampus is a horned, anthropomorphic figure described as “half-goat, half-demon”, who, during the Christmas season, punishes children who have misbehaved, in contrast with Saint Nicholas, who rewards the well-behaved with gifts. Krampus is one of the companions of Saint Nicholas in several regions including Austria, Bavaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Tyrol and parts of Northern Italy. The origin of the figure is unclear; some folklorists and anthropologists have postulated it as having pre-Christian origins.
In traditional parades and in such events as the Krampuslauf (English: Krampus run), young men dressed as Krampus participate; such events occur annually in most Alpine towns. Krampus is also featured on holiday greeting cards called Krampuskarten.
Norwegians hide all the brooms in their homes on Christmas Eve – to prevent witches from stealing them. The legend says that on this night witches and evil spirits come out looking for brooms to ride on. Norwegians believe that it is bad luck to leave a broom outside the house this holly night.
The Mari Lwyd is a wassailing folk custom found in South Wales. The tradition entails the use of an eponymous hobby horse which is made from a horse’s skull mounted on a pole and carried by an individual hidden under a sackcloth. It represents a regional variation of a “hooded animal” tradition that appears in various forms throughout Britain.
The custom was first recorded in 1800, with subsequent accounts of it being produced into the early twentieth century. According to these, the Mari Lwyd was a tradition performed at Christmas time by groups of men. They would form into teams to accompany the horse on its travels around the local area, and although the makeup of such groups varied, they typically included an individual to carry the horse, a leader, and individuals dressed as stock characters such as Punch and Judy. The team would carry the Mari Lwyd to local houses, where they would request entry through the medium of song. The householders would be expected to deny them entry, again through song, and the two sides would continue their responses to one another in this manner. If the householders eventually relented, then the team would be permitted entry and given food and drink.
In the early morning hours of Christmas Day Portuguese enjoy a feast, called consoada, the tradition is to set extra plates at the table for alminhas a penar (“the souls of the dead”). The custom derives from the ancient practice of entrusting seeds to the dead in hopes that they will provide a rich harvest.
According to the Greek folk fiction, goblins from the underworld are passing to our world on Christmas Eve and stay for 12 days to tease, annoy or scare people.
In the regions of Macedonia, Thrace and Thessaly the custom of disguises this time of year appears to be related to the goblins. The disguised men called Rogatsia or Rogatsaria, wear animal skins (wolves, goats, etc.) or dressed in uniforms armed with swords and they go around their village or neighboring villages, singing and collecting presents. If two groups of men meet, they pretend to fight until one of the group’s defeat the other. The people of these areas believe that by making noise and having fun they keep the evil away.
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Have a read here on more Christmas traditions!