From decorating trees and manger scenes for Christians, to lighting candles and spinning dreidels for Jews, to drinking eggnog for milky, yolk-filled booze lovers of any belief system — the holidays are a time for us to gather together and celebrate our favorite traditions. But here’s the thing about traditions: Sometimes they can be a bit too traditional. We sing the same songs, we eat the same food, we even crowd into the same movie theaters after the presents have been opened. This isn’t just “the most wonderful time of the year,” it’s also the most repetitive.
This year, let’s spice things up with some of the craziest, coolest, and most surprisingly scatological traditions from around the globe.
The Poop Log — Catalonia
Imagine this Christmas morning: A fire is crackling, Bing Crosby plays softly over the speakers, everyone is snug and toasty in their pajamas and robes…and children beat an anthropomorphized log while singing this (very real) song:
Hazelnuts and mato cheese,
If you don’t sh*t well,
I’ll hit you with a stick,
Quick take: Interesting subject matter plus evocative lyrics equals a solid win for music lovers.
This holiday tradition from Catalonia involves bringing a log into the house during the Feast of the Immaculate Conception on December 8, “feeding” the log and keeping it warm under a blanket, then beating that log until it panic-sh*ts raisins and candy on Christmas day.
Again, they beat a piece of wood until it craps presents. This is very, very real.
And this is something you could be doing on Christmas, too.
The Gävle Goat — Sweden
Every year, a giant goat statue is constructed from straw in Gävle, Sweden, and every year festive anarchists conspire to burn that goat to the ground. The battle between the city officials who want to protect the goat, and pretty much everyone else (all set on the animal’s fiery destruction), creates one of the most amazing (and illegal) holiday traditions in the world. You can watch the goat statue on a live webcam feed here. As of this reporting, the 2015 Gävle Goat has not yet been turned into a glorious funeral pyre.
Festive Fried Chicken — Japan
While there is never truly a “bad” time for fried chicken, Japan has turned eating at Kentucky Fried Chicken into a Christmas pastime. Fried chicken, much like sex, pizza, and Kevin James movies, is still pretty good even when it’s terrible (and KFC is definitely the Here Comes the Boom of fried chicken). This tradition has become so popular in Japan that people order the special Christmas dinner months in advance.
So, this Christmas, put on your dressiest jorts and head over to the Colonel’s for your yuletide feast. Or, if you’re so inclined, drive to another restaurant where the staff is slightly less stoned and the food is slightly more edible. The most important thing is that somebody else will be doing the cooking, serving, and cleaning for your holiday dinner.
That’s a gift you give to yourself.
Mummers — Canada
Starting the day after Christmas until January 6 in Newfoundland, gangs of oddly dressed people invade houses, speak in unintelligible gibberish, then consume all the liquor in the house before leaving. It sounds like a crime (author’s note: and is also pretty consistent with most of my interactions with Canadians), but it’s actually the holiday tradition of mummering.
Mummering started in England, but not unlike vowel usage and football, things got a little weird when it moved to Canada. Instead of marching in parades or putting on plays in neighbor’s houses like the standard tradition, Canadian mummers turned the proceedings into a slightly frostier, infinitely more polite version of The Purge by destroying property and attacking rival mummer gangs.
Things are slightly calmer now. Instead of rampaging like disappointed hockey fans, mummers now visit houses in costume for some singing, dancing, and large quantities of grog. So, basically, Canadians have turned the day after Christmas into a drunker version of Halloween. Outside of Ryan Reynolds and poutine, this tradition could very well be the greatest gift Canada has ever given us.
Caganers — Catalonia
These figurines are placed in the manger scene to represent either fertility, a commentary on Christianity, or the undeniable hilarity of pooping. Sometimes the characters riff on pop culture or politics.
Just to recap: On Christmas day in Catalonia, after you are finished chanting at a log to poop presents, you can adjust your scatalogical-themed figurine before joining your family around the table.
Clearly, these holiday rituals will make the season brighter and help you develop a more nuanced understanding of the world. Besides, if the poop-obsessed Catalonians don’t inspire you to test a new tradition, what will?