December is a special month in the year, pretty much exclusively because the first thing that comes to mind when you think of it is the holidays, and consequently, vacation. But along with the holidays come the strange cultural traditions we never question because we've been practicing them all our lives.
Like, how old were you when you learned about the German-American Christmas pickle? Or the Catalan yuletide tradition of Caga Tío, a log that poops treats for kids?
Here are 4 traditions from around the world that will certainly leave you scratching your head.
1. The Christmas Pickle — U.S.
For some Americans of German descent, particularly in the Midwest, the strange custom of hiding a pickle ornament in the Christmas tree has become a yearly tradition. Surprisingly, most actual Germans have never heard of this Weinachtsgurke "thing," but it's essentially a game whereby the first kid to find the pickle gets an extra present on Christmas morning.
Apparently, this game is much more challenging than it sounds because the pickle tends to blend in perfectly with the green of the tree. "One year I hid it so well that we didn't find it until the following year when we were putting up the tree," shares one woman on Twitter.
Others say that in their families, it's "an honor" to get to hide the pickle. Sorry, come again?
2. Skating to Mass — Venezuela
Midnight mass is a tradition I personally think we'd all be better off skipping. Who wants to stay up late just to sit in silence and pray with their families when they could be eating a second serving of dessert while having a Christmas movie marathon?
But in Venezuela, people tend to go extra hard and proceed to Christmas mass on roller skates. The capital city of Caracas even blocks off several streets "to allow this unconventional commute to take place," according to MSN.
To make matters even stranger, the night before Christmas, kids tie "one end of string to their big toe and hang the other out of the window" so that roller skaters can offer a "friendly tug" on their toes when they pass in the morning.
I wouldn't mind seeing it on TV, but lying in bed getting my toes pulled is going to be a hard pass for me.
3. Caga Tío — Spain
It's a pleasure to explain the Catalan poop log to you because it's one of those customs that's so absurd, it blows the mind to realize it's somehow withstood the test of time. Around parts of Spain, especially in Catalonia and Andorra, families buy a hollowed-out log with a face and legs around the Feast of the Immaculate Conception (December 8th), which they then fill with candy and treats every day until Christmas.
Once Christmas Eve or Christmas Day comes around, the whole family throws the log into a fire, while the kids of the family hit the log with sticks until it poops out their treats.
Don't worry, it gets weirder. The whole time the kids are beating the log, they sing songs to "encourage" it. Like, "Poo log, poo nougat, hazelnuts and cottage cheese, if you don’t poo well, I’ll hit you with a stick, poo log," per Culture Trip.
Talk about being mean to trees :(
4. Santa Con — U.S.
Every year, major American cities host a (editor's note: repulsive) bar crawl where participants dress up as Santa Claus, act like messes, and ruin public transportation for everybody else.
Apparently, this tradition started as activist performance art seeking to make fun of the rampant consumerism associated with the Christmas holiday. But like most good things, when put in the hands of the American public, it devolved into the very thing it was aiming to mock: literally, excessive consumption.
Time to end this gross pub crawl once and for all. And while we're at it, America, find a way to teach your kids to behave that doesn't involve buying these kind-of-terrifying elves on shelves.
Merry Christmas to everyone who's not crazy enough to propagate these weird traditions!