Barcelona - Tio De Nadal
Catalan’s Christmas pooping log…. Yep, you heard that right!
In catalonia, children ” feed” (stuff) a hollow log, decorated with a smiley face and a red sock hat, full of sweets, nuts, and fruits every day starting from the 8th (feast of the immaculate conception) until either Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. When it comes time for the log to “poop” as such, children beat the log with sticks while singing this song until all the treats are released to be enjoyed:
“Poop tió, hazelnuts and nougats, do not poop herrings, they are too salty, poop nougats, they taste better. Poop, tió, almonds and nougats, and if you don’t want to poop, I will hit you with a stick! Poop, tió!”
:Caga tió, avellanes i torró, no caguis arengades que són massa salades, caga torrons que són més bons. Caga tió, ametlles i torró, i, si no vols cagar, et donaré un cop de bastó! Caga tió!”
In Vienna and Berlin, Santa is not accompanied by his regular happy elves but by terrifying demons! The antonym to his jolly character, these demons assist Santa on his journey punishing and scaring badly behaved children while good children receive presents from Saint Nick. I don’t know about you but I’d much rather coal than a visit from these scary beasts!
Berlin: Christmas Pickle
Usually getting yourself into a pickle is not a good thing, however in Germany on Christmas day, it’s actually quite the opposite! A pickle is hidden (usually a shaped ornament) either in the branches of the tree or among other Christmas decorations. Whichever child manages to find the pickle first is given a special Christmas gift. While this tradition may not be exclusively german, with some saying that it actually originated in pain, it’s certainly one we can get behind.
Happy Pickle Hunting!
Pisa - La Befana
Forget Father Christmas, Italy has a Christmas witch! Known as La Befana, this witch is depicted as a hooded lady on a broom. Far from being an evil witch, however, she flies from house to house on her magic broom giving sweeties to good children and coal for naughty ones…just like Saint Nick. Legend also says that to be a good host you should leave out a glass of wine and that you shouldn’t try to wait up for her otherwise she will spank you with the end of her broom…..more likely however, more likely it is just way for crafty parents to get their kids to go to beds early and relax with some vino before the ensuing chaos.
Bratislava - Apple Stars
After the Christmas Feast, guests are presented with an apple each. The apples are cut in half and if they are revealed to contain a “star” then good luck is ensured for the next year. Snacking on garlic and honey on wafers is also believed to ensure good health as well for he upcoming year.