By M. W. Byrne

Freak Flags Flying: 17 Strange Winter Holiday Traditions

Every culture, society, religion, tribe, cult, secret society, and family has some traditions that crop up, and there’s a throng of holidays – dead, alive, and otherwise – that anyone can choose to observe.

Here’s 17 strange holiday traditions from every time and place.

Black Pete

Pete handles the dirty work of taking away naughty children to be punished by spending a year in Spain. While this actually sounds fairly nice, the Dutch formerly thought of Spain as similar to Hell. They’ve probably only been to Malaga.


Literal Yule Log

Speaking of going to Spain, in Catalonia they have a tradition of making a happy little Christmas log who you give food to and he then produces gifts from his digestive system.


Deep Fried Caterpillars

South Africa is an oddity in that it’s a mix of traditional African cultures and the English that so long oppressed and occupied the region. One of the best throwbacks is the tradition of tucking in to deep fried caterpillars from the Emperor Moth on Christmas day.


The Caganer

In Catalan every nativity scene needs a little figure tucked into the background with his pants down, squatting. Like doing Julius Caesar with a modern figure in the role of Caesar, Caganers can be world leaders, icons, fictional characters, or anyone of note.


Shoe Toss Marriage Prediction

Young ladies who would make brilliant physicists, leaders, writers, artists, and political hellcats are instead taught to turn their back to a door and throw a shoe at it. If the shoe lands with the toe toward the door, the woman will be wed within the year.


La Befana

Instead of an obese man delivering gifts, La Befana is an Italian witch who brings candy and gifts to good children, and coal to bad ones. 


The Santarun

Precisely what the name implies, the Santa-Run is a gathering of people in the last part of November or early December for a 7K marathon.