Do you have any fun family traditions? Do you have any unique Christmas traditions? I know of people who get new pajamas to wear on Christmas Day. For our family we love to drive around and see the Christmas lights. But we also, as a trinational family, like to mix traditions from Australia, Germany and America. We have truly made Christmas our own with how we mix it up. And that is fun. It is unique for us. What are your traditions?
We love learning about new cultures and traditions and are often looking for some different ones. Here are some fun ones that we discovered in our learning adventures.
The Yule Goat hails from Scandinavia. There are some varying stories behind the Goat and what it does. In Sweden, people believed the Yule goat to be an invisible spirit that would appear before Christmas to make sure that the holiday preparations were done correctly. Or young men in costumes, like a goat, would walk between houses singing songs and performing pranks.
A popular Christmas prank is to make a Yule goat out of straw or wood and then place it in a neighbor’s house without them noticing; the family that was pranked then has to get rid of it in the same way.
Today, many of us know the Yule log only as a tasty chocolate dessert, but there’s a lot more to this centuries-old tradition than that. Traditionally it was an entire log that would burn for the 12 days of Christmas (Yikes! That doesn’t sound safe.)
Today, burning a Yule log is still a Christmas tradition in some cultures; a log is traditionally burned in the fireplace on Christmas Eve. But you can also play videos of the fire burning in the fireplace for your TV. Several streaming services have them – you can even burn a log in Arendelle if you have Frozen fan. For many the yule log is a log-shape chocolate cake enjoyed as a Christmas dessert. It truly is delicious (and you can always cheat if you don’t want to make a Swiss roll by buying a pre-made one).
PICKLE ORNAMENT IN THE CHRISTMAS TREE
This one is funny to us, because my husband is German and he has NEVER heard of this prior coming to the USA and people asking us if we do the pickle ornament tradition.
The common tale told of the Weihnachtsgurke, is that it’s an Old World tradition that started in Germany. No one really knows where that idea came from. But the tradition goes that an ornament in the shape of a pickle is always the last one hung on the tree on Christmas Eve, camouflaged somewhere among the pine needles. The first child to find the pickle in the morning is assured of good luck in the coming year and a special gift. This does NOT happen in Germany. But my girls want to do it this year. They just want another present!
There are two other prevailing stories – neither have any evidentiary support either.
The starving Civil War solider theory
The story goes that a captured Union Army soldier was starving in a prison camp. On Christmas Eve, he begged a guard for a pickle. The guard agreed to this and gave him one, which the solider said sustained him and therefore saved his life. After returning home, the solider began the tradition of hanging a pickle on his family’s tree each Christmas Eve to remember the pickle that saved his life.
Saint Nicholas and the Pickle Barrel
The tale is a little gruesome but the safe version is that an horrible innkeeper trapped two boys inside a barrel of pickles. St. Nicholas found the boys and freed them. The boys were able to make it home for Christmas dinner. The pickle then represents the boys being freed.
CATALAN POOP LOG
This is without a doubt, our favorite find of Christmas traditions. Tió de Nadal (Christmas log) or Caga Tió (Poop Log) is a hollow log with stick legs, a smiley face and floppy red hat. He hails from the Catalan region of Spain.
On December 8, families bring out the happy log. Every night you offer him nuts, fruit and water, and you cover him with a blanket to keep him warm. This happens every night until Christmas Eve.
On Christmas Eve children gather around the log and beat him with sticks while singing the traditional Tió de Nadal song, which goes like this:
Hazelnuts and mató cheese,
If you don’t poop well,
I’ll hit you with a stick,
At the end of the song you look under the blanket and woah! the poop log has pooped out candies and small presents for everyone. What do you do with the log when he has finished pooping out gifts? Why, you burn him for warmth of course!
What are your family Christmas traditions? Do you have any unique Christmas traditions? Regardless of what they are, make they make beautiful memories for you and your family. Merry Christmas!