TCS: Winter Holiday Traditions

Good Morning!


Welcome to The Coffee Shop, just for you early risers on Monday mornings. This is an Open Thread forum, so if you have an off-topic opinion burning a hole in your brainpan, feel free to add a comment.


I once wanted to become an atheist,
but I gave up – they have no holidays.

– Henny Youngman



I love finding out about celebrations in other parts of the world. What people do to spread joy, express spirituality, or mark changes of the season, and why they do what they do, never cease to amaze and intrigue me.

In 1978, Chögyam Trungpa, a Tibetan Buddhist master, created Children’s Day, a special holiday for the Winter Solstice. The “King and Queen” of the mythical Kingdom of Shambala (which is mentioned in both Buddhist and Hindu texts) welcome and bless the children. Plays, songs, and poems celebrate the rebirth of the sun, and the beginning of winter. Unfortunately, most of the videos about Shambala Children’s Day on YouTube were done by parents at local celebrations, so I will spare you the motion sickness of their hand-held camerawork.

Apologies in advance for this first video’s chirpy narrator, but the stories she’s telling at warp speed are fascinating. The video starts out as an ad for KFC, but does give us information on nine actual traditions.

Here’s the list of weird traditions discussed:

  1.      Japan – KFC “Holiday” Meals
  2.     South Wales – Mari Lwyd (Gray Mare)
  3.     Sweden – Goat vs. Fire
  4.     Catalan Region, Spain – Christmas Log
  5.     Caracas, Venezuela – Roller Skate to Mass
  6.     Ukraine – Spiderwebs on Trees
  7.     Norway – Hide Your Broom
  8.     Oaxaca, Mexico – Noche de Rabanos (Night of the Radishes)
  9.     Greenland – Moldy Seal (warning: Eeuww!)  
  10.     Austria and Alpine areas – Krampus Night

I’m not sure why most of the holiday narrators I found are racing the clock, but this is a very quick summary of Hanukkah/Chanukah/Hanukah (or however you spell it  — transliterations are a pain in the tuchas).

I can’t decide between Mari Lwyd and Noche de Rabanos as my favorite of the weird traditions.

Which one do you like best? 

About wordcloud9

Nona Blyth Cloud has lived and worked in the Los Angeles area for the past 50 years, spending much of that time commuting on the 405 Freeway. After Hollywood failed to appreciate her genius for acting and directing, she began a second career managing non-profits, from which she has retired. Nona has now resumed writing whatever comes into her head, instead of reports and pleas for funding. She lives in a small house overrun by books with her wonderful husband.
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5 Responses to TCS: Winter Holiday Traditions

  1. Malisha says:

    Christmas is a weird holiday too, of course. We’re just used to it. I used to say that we lived “on a Christmas economy,” and found the manicky quality of it too rattling, even to enjoy it much with those of my friends who went all out to celebrate it. I have nothing against the religious aspects of it because they’re just like religious aspects of anything else. But a few years back, I happened upon a box of cards to send out that were just solid red with the black-and-white lettered words: HO HO HO written across them in a quite pleasing design so I got them. Then I put an insert into each card, a printed up “list of the top ten reasons I do not like Christmas,” as follows:

    10. Visions of sugarplums dance in my head.
    9. Christmas Music…overandoverandoverandoverandover…
    8. Businesses I never heard of send me cards wishing me peace and joy.
    7. Traffic…moreandmoreandmoreandmoreandmore…
    6. TV programs get even worse…andworseandworseandworse…
    5. Stores keep telling me I can save money by giving it to them.
    4. There are things called “shopping days” left before it.
    3. Lines at the post office are even slower…andslowwwwwwer…
    2. Pan-handlers look even more miserable.
    … and the number one reason I do not like Christmas:
    1. This weird, FAT, OLD white guy shows up calling me a HO!

    • wordcloud9 says:

      LOL – Sugar Plums are actually quite delicious – they’re covered in chocolate. I’ve only had them once, but they’re are quite memorable, so visions of them dancing in the heads of little children makes sense.

      Christmas music at the malls and grocery stores – horrible! One December on Winter Break, I worked at J.C Penney, and their tape was s-l-o-w-l-y dying, but they wouldn’t turn it off, or get a new one – it was torture by the last week – so distorted you couldn’t tell what carols they were – sounded more like muffled Godzilla roaring than music.

      Most of the Christmas music we play at our house is the really old stuff – Medieval and Renaissance.

      • Malisha says:

        I love “God rest ye merry gentlemen” and “Adeste fideles,” but most of all the Messiah. These are not played very often though. I hate those “Santa Claus songs,” every last one of them.

  2. Silent Night (Gaeilge)

    Oíche chiúin, oíche Mhic Dé,
    Cách ‘na suan dís araon,
    Dís is dílse ‘faire le spéis
    Naoín beag gnaoigheal
    ceananntais caomh

    Críost, ‘na chodhladh go séimh.
    Críost, ‘na chodhladh go séimh.

    Oíche chiúin, oíche Mhic Dé,
    Aoirí ar dtús chuala ‘n scéal;
    Allelúia aingeal ag glaoch.
    Cantain suairc i ngar is i gcéin

    Críost an Slánaitheoir Féin
    Críost an Slánaitheoir Féin

    Oíche chiúin, oíche Mhic Dé,
    Cách ‘na suan dís araon,
    Dís is dílse ‘faire le spéis
    Naoín beag gnaoigheal
    ceananntais caomh

    Críost, ‘na chodhladh go séimh.
    Críost, ‘na chodhladh go séimh.

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