Worldbuilding Wednesday 12/14/22: Christmas Traditions Around the World


Christmas can be a pretty bizarre holiday, being as it’s conglomeration of pagan, Catholic, and secular traditions. In the Catalan region of Spain, for example, there’s the traditional of the Caga Tio, or shitting log, that is stuffed with presents and hit like a pinata on Christmas Eve until it gives them up. Related to this is the Nativity figurine known as the Caganer, or Pooper, who is depicted with their pants down about to do #2. Supposedly he conveys the idea that God’s call can come to anyone, anywhere, even while they’re taking a crap.

From Oaxaca, Mexico comes the Festival of the Radishes, which takes place on December 23rd. All year radishes are grown to enormous size and then carved into artistic creations which are displayed in the town square. After which, I hope, they simmer in bowls of hot pozole.

In the U.S. look no further than the department store Santa for a bizarre tradition. A typical one is seen in the 1983 movie A Christmas Story. There’s also humor writer David Sedaris’s account of his time spent as a Macy’s department store elf in his monologue The Santaland Diaries. A newer tradition is the Elf on the Shelf which, though it seems a relic of an earlier time by the concept and design, actually dates from 2005.

AI creations can’t hold a candle to anything like this in real life. But from randomly generated pictures  I came up with these.


Some could-be-real Christmas traditions from around the world

Poland:  Santa wears a black cossack hat and plays a drum shaped like a giant dog’s paw.

Mexico:  Effigies of Papa Noel (Santa Claus) are built out of chili peppers and the Christmas trees are dyed red.

Argentina:  Christmas trees are set up outside local shops and then set on fire.

South Africa: Termite mounds are dressed up as Santa and native dancers dressed as snowmen perform.

Vladivostok, Russia: Santa leads a pantomime camel decorated with Christmas lights through the streets.

The Australian Outback: Santa rides in an old wooden truck and a traditional Aboriginal feast is set up outside.

Basque Region, Spain:  A 10-foot high “Christmas Tower” resembling a giant ornament or UFO is constructed. It requires ten people inside to parade it through the streets accompanied by townspeople. A favorite attraction of the tourists.

Quebec, Canada:  A single “Mother Christmas” sings carols in front of the mayor’s mansion.

Walla Walla, Washington: Santa rides a miniature dirtbike into town with his helper. He fires off his hunting rifle at each house.

Taos, New Mexico: Dogs are dressed up as reindeer and Santa wears a Native American inspired costume.


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