Christmas around the world

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Posted 12/20/16 (Tue)

What A Joke
By John Bayer

Growing up, our family had this book my mother would bring out every year of Christmas traditions around the world. I remember one thing from that book. It’s a tradition that came from Greece or Turkey, I think.  The people go out onto the frozen lake and break a large hole in the ice. A wooden cross is then placed in the water. The children of the village dive in to retrieve it. I don’t remember what the winner gets, but I’m fairly sure at least one family every year gets the gift of one less mouth to feed.
Christmas traditions vary by region. Some cultures exchange gifts on Christmas Eve. Others Christmas Day, the day after Christmas or the day of the Epiphany (January 5). Being the multicultural person that I am, I will eagerly accept presents on any of these days. 
While in many parts of the world it’s Santa who brings the gifts to little kids, in Colombia it’s the baby Jesus who makes the deliveries. In Italy, gifts are delivered by a kindly old witch called La Befana, in Wales by someone named Chimney John, and in Austria by a golden-haired baby with wings called the Christkind.
Of course, here in North Dakota we know that gifts are actually delivered by our 26th president, Teddy Roosevelt, in his buckskin sleigh pulled by eight bull moose.
Here are some other unique Christmas traditions (– these are real, I didn’t not make them up):
Germans hide a pickle in their Christmas trees. The first child to find the pickle on Christmas morning gets a small gift . . . and smelly hands the rest of the day.
Instead of tinsel and ornaments, in the Ukraine they decorate Christmas trees with artificial spiders and webs.
On Christmas Eve, families in Estonia traditionally head out to the sauna.
In Norway, people hide their brooms on Christmas Eve so that they won’t fall into the hands of witches or evil spirits.
Thanks to a successful marketing campaign in the 1970s, it’s a tradition in Japan to eat Kentucky Fried Chicken at Christmas.
In Caracas, Venezuela, it is customary for parishioners to travel to Christmas mass on roller skates.
However you choose to celebrate, I hope that you have a bright and happy holiday. 
In the words of Old Saint Roosevelt, “Bully Christmas to all. And to all, a rough ride!”