Weird and wonderful Christmas traditions

Credit: Irina Rogova

We explore a trio of strange Christmas traditions from around the world.

Christmassy caterpillars

In South Africa, one of the festive delicacies that kids most look forward to isn’t pastries or chocolates, but fried caterpillars. The Pine Tree Emperor Moth is known as the ‘Christmas caterpillar’ thanks to its festive colouration. As well as offering a seasonal treat, it’s believed that the dish gives a little bit of luck for the year ahead to whoever eats it.

The pooping log

Parts of Spain still celebrate the Catalan custom of ‘Tió de Nadal’ or ‘the pooping log’. Basically, a log is hollowed out and given a face and legs. Once a day, from 8 December to Christmas Eve, children feed the log with small treats and water, and leave it under a blanket. Come Christmas Eve, the children beat him with sticks while singing lyrics including “If you don’t poop well, I’ll hit you with a stick, poop log”. When the log, um, poops out present and candy, he is then thrown onto the fire.

Christmas pickle

It’s said that when German families decorate their Christmas tree, the very last ornament to be hung is the Christmas gherkin (or pickle). Typically, it’s made from blown glass and has been handed down for generations. It’s tucked away in the tree and the first child that find the gherkin on Christmas morning gets a special gift and good luck for the entire year. Since Germany is responsible for so much of what we associate with Christmas, maybe we should all me hanging a gherkin on the tree.