Words by Brittany Conrad

As one of the most universally celebrated holidays in the world, Christmas has a seemingly endless array of shared customs and rich traditions to help you get into the spirit all season long. While a Red Ryder BB gun is synonymous with ‘fragile’ for me, Catalonia’s pooping log feels lost in translation. I’m a firm believer that you shouldn’t knock it til’ you try it, but I think at least for now I’m going to stick with my advent calendar.

‘Kurisumasu ni wa kentakkii!’

It’s finger lickin’ good. Believe it or not, it isn’t Christmas in Japan, without a trip to the local KFC. With no true tradition of Christmas in Japan, the holiday is largely formed by Western ideals. Promoting the idea of a Christmas dinner, a highly successful and popular ad campaign for KFC was launched in 1974, exclaiming, Kurisumasu ni wa kentakkii! (Kentucky for Christmas!). Colonel Sanders is now paramount to celebrating the holidays, serving up an estimated 3.6 million families each season.

Tio de Nadal “The Pooping Log”

In Catalonia, Spain, each year beginning December 8th (the Feast of Immaculate Conception) your dog isn’t the only thing you have to remember to feed. Tio De Nadal or “The Pooping Log” is a hollowed out log with face and legs added. The rules are simple, once you have spent the month fattening up your log, come Christmas Eve, it is time to put him in the fireplace. As if death by fire isn’t bad enough, it is now time to beat him with sticks until he “poops” out the small candies, fruits, and nuts you have been feeding him. The final object he is meant to drop is either a salt herring, garlic bulb, or onion. There’s a song that goes with this ritual, get excited:

“Shit Log, Shit Nougats,

Hazelnuts and Cottage Cheese

If you don’t shit well,

I’ll hit you with a stick, Shit log!”

Caganer

I’m no expert, but it’s starting to seem like Catalonia might have some sort of fetish…Caganer is a small statue of a defecating man tucked into nativity scenes usually off to the side. Because, privacy.

Christmas Pickle

In Germany, a special gift along with good luck all year is awarded to the child who finds the…Christmas pickle in the tree. Glass blown ornaments have long been popular in Germany, but as tradition goes no tree is complete without the final finishing touch being a hand blown glass pickle tucked within the branches. This is strange, but I’m okay with it, pickles are dank.

TV Yule Log

Since 1966 every Christmas Eve and Christmas. WPIX New York has broadcast the Yule Log for a consecutive 24 hours. I personally have no patience for the Yule Log, but some people think it’s festive. I don’t even know if it classifies as weird anymore. But fun fact: While the original film was shot at Gracie Mansion, there was a carpet fire during the first filming, which made the mayor wary of a reshoot a few years later. The loop now seen on TV is shot in a studio in California. Fake AF.

Clean Sweep

In Norway, one superstition has it that there is to be no cleaning on Christmas Eve. All of the brooms are hidden in fear that they may be stolen by witches and evil spirits. Excuses, excuses.

Skate to Church

In the city of Caracas, Venezuela, it is customary for residents to roller skate to church throughout the Christmas season with the streets being closed off to cars until 8AM for morning mass.

Santa and Machine Guns

Long live the second amendment, leave it to the gun totting, die hard conservatives to come up with a holiday tradition this absurd. Since 2010, Arizona’s Scottsdale Gun Club, has hosted a controversial photo opportunity to pose with jolly saint Nick and an AK47. The club says they came up with the idea when one club member showed up in a santa suit and there was an overwhelming response of people wanting to take photos with Santa and a gun. Ranging from grenade launchers to modified AR15s, this takes decking the halls to a new level.

Festivus

Whether it’s the feats strength, the airing of grievances or the lack of tinsel, Festivus has been a Christmas tradition for the conscientious objector since that fateful episode of Seinfeld aired in December 1997. So for all those who despise the Christmas traditions of tinsel, relentless capitalist advertising and excessive consumption, Frank Costanza said it best, “It’s a Festivus for the rest of us.” And after all, who are we to argue with Frank Costanza.