You’re joining the festivities during some cultures’ most superstitious times. Some people will be stirring their pudding fraught with worry in a clockwise direction exactly 6 times, others’ fermented delicacies will be JUST about ready to retrieve from the ground, or some will just be throwing shoes around the front door in the hopes of gaining a new love interest (better than Tinder though I reckon). Immerse yourself in what are some of the world’s most marvellous celebrations, and join in before you get another day older. For Jesus.
I’m going to hit you with the most traumatising first, and then it’ll slowly get better – like a worst-to-best situation.
1. Eat traditional Inuit delicacies. Think birds and such, marinated inside other animals for months – Greenland
Do it now: Because everyone has to have that “one wild story” from their 20s. I cannot fathom any other explanation.
In Greenland, it is an Inuit tradition to stuff around 300 auk – small arctic birds similar to penguins – inside the carcass of a seal. Bury, marinate for several months, and then proceed to unwrap the seal and SUCK OUT the decomposing flesh of the little aukies. Awkies.
Why this happens? Because in freezing climates such as this, the brain goes utterly loopy.
Quite possibly, the turducken from hell.
A visual representation, not the real thing.
2. Swim in sub-zero temperatures on Christmas Day – Blackrock diving boards, Galway, Ireland
Do it now: Because Irish antics are best enjoyed at a safe, young age when bones can still recover quickly. Also because you like being a nice person.
This madness is actually for a good cause – all participation funds go towards Cope Galway. But still, hypothermia. Everyone that dares swim in the abnormality that is water mixed with winter usually warms up with a tipple afterwards (and checks their limbs are still functioning), so there’s that.
3. Go on a Christmas graveyard walk – London
Do it now: Before you get too old and afraid, and the childish curiosity wears out.
The Crossbones Graveyard in London is a pretty spooky one if you don’t want to mess around. Bring extra pants, and a mask to hide the fear on your face.
4. KFC on Christmas Eve – Japan
Do it now: Because, you know, CALORIES.
Thanks to an ~extremely successful~ ad campaign in 1974, all residents of Nippon like to crack open a bucket of the Colonel’s finest of a Christmas Eve. Scores of people order ahead to avoid the hours-long queues that start to gather when that finger-lickin’ time hits.
Bucket feasts now come complete with cake and champers. All you need really.
5. Christmas markets – Belgium
Do it now: Gluhwein. Raisin bread. Cheese. Ham. Cheese. That’s why.
You’ve GOT to do Christmas markets, but the good ones – so little time. The Belgian markets are always a popular pick, there are so many options: chalet markets, underground markets, above ground markets, ice-skating markets, etc. Complete not just with Belgian, but ALL the European foods.
6. Deep fried caterpillars – South Africa
Do it now: As you get older, your gag reflex wears out. The end.
As a Christmas Day staple, locals tuck into deep-fried Emperor Moth caterpillars (at least they have the fried aspect? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ )
7. Post a letter to Santa – Canada
Do it now: Before you stop believing in Santa. Or at least before your parents THINK you’ve stopped believing.
Canada post recognises the address “Santa Claus, North Pole, Canada HOHOHO”.
Awwww. You know you want to. If anything, it’ll be a sounding board to decide if you want the holiday or the engagement ring for Chrimbo.
8. Run a marathon dressed as Santa – New York, Atlanta, Chicago 0r New Orleans, USA
Do it now: Because your morals and self respect (read: carefree attitude out the window) start to kick in soon.
Take part in the running of the Santas, a tradition in the USA. Get rewarded with pub crawls afterwards.
9. Doorknock in Wales dressed as a horse – rural Wales
Do it now: Who DOESN’T want freebies asap? You also pick up a new language in the process = maximum dateable.
Probably the most alarming of traditions, Mari Lwyd (which translates to Grey Mare) is a Welsh custom that is usually performed (and I do mean perform) in south and south-east rural towns.
Whichever lucky person gets to be the mare, they parade around the streets with a fake horse skull attached to a pole and a sheet over them for concealment, knocking on poor unsuspecting people’s doors and blatantly asking for food and drink. Scabbing food comes at no easy feat – you must memorise and recite a Welsh stanza at the door, and have rebuttal prepared for when the residents engage in a pwnco (rap battle) and hurl insults back at you. Then it’s food city.
10. Eat traditional English Christmas pudding – UK
Do it now: Because who knows how long you can bite down on this before one of those chompers snaps in half. Best do it while you’ve probably still got your milk teeth, mind you.
Chomping down on one of these is like playing russian roulette with your pearly whites. Made especially difficult with all the Monopoly-like obstacles cooked into the pud (that’s hygienic).
11. Ice skate – New York, USA
Try out an ice rink while you can still twirl without breaking a hip, or at least pick it up fast.
Whether in your nearest city (or, if you’re stuck in Aus, Asia or somewhere boiling let it be an excuse for a cheeky Euro/US holiday) or go somewhere special like Rockefeller Centre in NYC. It’s a dream.
12. Go on a ramble – UK, Scotland, or Wales
Do it now: Before you get all puffy and old and can’t keep up.
The Ramblers’ Festival of Winter Walks runs hundreds of free walks to get outside and stretch those icy limbs during the festive period, and enjoy good old snow.