Moving on from the racist history of central Europe, let us move on to one of the more plainly bizarre and humorous traditions to have been spawned by this area of our planet. Polterabend originated in Germany and consists of an engaged couple cleaning up copious amounts of smashed up stuff. Yup, that’s pretty much all there is to explain here. During the time leading up to their marriage, friends and family of the couple arrange a time to meet up and break a whole load of, well, general items, with the sole view that the bewildered (I’d be?) couple must then clean the lot of it up. The tradition is intended to strengthen the pairs ability to work as team through all manner of difficult situation before entering wedlock.
4. Keep Your Feet to Yourself…
I often muse over the fundamental differences between certain sects of humanity, and how an aspect as simple as geographical location can go so far into influencing the tendencies and traits associated with the people native to a particular area. Take for example, the relaxed approach to shoeless-ness in many parts of Mediterranean Europe (Italy, Greece) in comparison to some areas in the East, in particular Thailand. The Thai people place a special emphasis upon the two polar areas of the human body, namely the head and the feet. Whilst the head is considered fully sacred, the feet are considered filthy and inadequate- as a result, it is deemed highly insulting to reveal the soles of your feet in any kind of public setting.
3. Day of the Geese
Many, many popular world customs involve the utilisation, in one way or another, of animals. Most notably, those traditions are native to nations, or at least areas of nations, that are considered historically feudal or agricultural. One such custom is the annual Spanish tradition entitled the ‘Day of the Geese’. Originating in the quaint, attractive and quiet fishing town of Lekeitio, in the north of the country, the ‘fiesta’ centres around a bunch of men attempting the perilous and demanding task of springing up from boats in the towns harbour and attempting to detach a gooses head from its body. It is believed that the tradition arose as a method with which young men were challenged to prove their worth amongst females, and used to be practiced all over the nation. Oh, and they used to use live geese.
2. The Tooth fairy
Originating in early European folklore, the Tooth Fairy is a figure of child’s fantasy said to leave monetary reward in exchange for each one of a child’s milk teeth. Whilst this is a tradition widely known and practiced now in the western world, or Anglosphere; the origins of it are thought to extend right back to the Viking era. Aside from other fictional figures synonymous with childhood in these parts of the world, such as the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy is unique in the sense that there are no certain specifications to which she (or he) is said to adhere. This relates not only to appearance and mannerism, but to conduct and method of visitation.
1. Krampus Night
Portrayed as the polar-opposite of good old Saint Nicholas (Santa Claus), Krampus is a figure of Alpine folklore that is said to act against the deeds of Santa during the Yuletide season. A character known to citizens of such nations as Austria, Czech Republic, Slovenia and Hungary, Krampus is most commonly ‘celebrated’ on the evening of December 5th, each and every year. Whereas Santa Claus acts as a motive for encouragement in the never-ending struggle to get kids to behave for at least one month out of the year, Krampus achieves the same results, however through the method of sheer unrelenting terror. Each year on December 5th, many people take the streets looking like the dude in the picture above, and the people of each nation involved in the festivities feast and get merry. Sounds like a good time, if you like a spot of fancy dress anyway.