Christmas, unlike any other time of year, brings out the family foibles, timeless traditions, never ending nonsense and Christmas quirks. Nobody questions why we laugh at awful jokes whilst wearing paper hats, sing along to songs we’ve heard a thousand times before or buy trolleys full of food for a 12 hour closed shop period. We just do!!
Mistletoe: What is it and why do we kiss under it? I’d love to be able to say it has magical powers but it’s all to do with healing powers -allegedly. The ancient Greeks used it for everything ranging from menstrual cramps to liver disorders. At the start of the first century, they discovered that mistletoe could blossom even in the harsh winter months. They took this as a sign that it could be used to aid fertility in animals and humans.
The kissing tradition began with the servants of 18th Century England, and quickly spread to the middle classes. The men were allowed to steal a kiss from any woman caught standing under the mistletoe, with a refusal viewed as bad luck. A tradition we no longer practise, saw a single berry from the mistletoe being plucked with each kiss, and only when all the berries were gone, did the kissing stop! Some serious lip balm needed then….
Iceland’s Yule Cat: Not only do the Icelandic have some very odd ideas of how to smoke a Xmas repast, but the tradition of buying people new clothes at Christmas stems from the strange Yule Cat . This giant cat is said to roam the snowy countryside with farmers declaring that those who worked hard would receive a new set of clothes, but those who didn’t would be eaten by the monstrous cat-like beast.
Venezuela, Caracas: This has to be one of the strangest yet. It’s customary for people to attend Christmas morning mass all over the world, but here they do it on roller skates!
Many of the city’s streets are closed to traffic to allow the free flow of skating traffic and many children sleep with a skate dangling from the window.
Austria: When I hear Bad Santa I think of a fairly amusing Billy Bob Thornton movie. Austrian children, however, are faced with a ghoulish creature called ‘Krampus‘; the evil accomplice of Santa! He is said to roam the streets in search of badly-behaved children. It gets better; for the whole of December, masked figures terrorise children, and adults, with gruesome pranks. Gives the naughty list a whole new, terrifying, meaning.
Wherever you are from, and however you celebrate Christmas, we hope that this year is your best ever. Make it about the people you are with, whether they’re with you in person, or via technology, make this a time to make memories.
From us here at Saronti, we wish you all a wonderful Christmas and the BEST New Year…