Holidays are often imbued with tradition -- personal traditions, family traditions, cultural traditions. My Christmas traditions involve family gathering to enjoy good food and opening gifts in front of the tree, as well as, of course, copious cookie baking. But I'm always intrigued by other cultural traditions. Here are a couple of interesting Christmas traditions I discovered in recent years.
|Íslendingabók, the Book of Icelanders|
- In Iceland, books are traditionally given as Christmas eve gifts, and people often stay up late into the night reading and eating chocolate. (I wrote about the Icelandic literary tradition here.)
- When we traveled to Barcelona, I learned that Catalan nativity scenes include a Caganer ("the crapper"), a figurine of a peasant engaged in the act of defecating.
- I'm still totally in love with the Polish szopka -- beautiful and colorful Christmas cribs made of foil-covered cardboard. I have a tiny smidgen of regret that I didn't buy one while we were visiting Krakow last year.
- I wrote about some of the Czech Advent traditions, including the Lucys, who bang on your door wearing creepy stork-like masks, and Perchta, who threatens to slit open greedy children's bellies and stuff them with pea plants.
- Speaking of scary Christmas stories, I always enjoy David Sedaris' essay on Dutch Christmas traditions. His experience working as an elf at Macy's department store also says a lot about American Christmas traditions.