By Kelly Sargent
Ah, the Holidays . . . a chance to overeat, usually several times, and enjoy a little time off from work.
When we think of winter holidays, most of us think of Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, the winter solstice and New Year’s. However, there are so many other winter celebrations, festivals and traditions you’ve most likely never heard of. Check these out.
On Christmas Eve in Norway people hide their brooms before they go to bed so that witches and other evil spirits won’t have anything to zoom around on to disturb innocent sleepers.
In the Czech Republic and Slovenia, a single woman who wants to find out if she’ll be getting married in the coming year stands with her back to her house on Christmas Eve and tosses a shoe over her shoulder at the house. It’s bad news if it lands with the heel toward the house and toe pointing away; she’ll stay single another year.
Wearing Bear Suits
Carolers don bear costumes and dance on New Year’s Eve in Romania to drive away evil spirits. That’s dancing bear, not dancing bare — although who knows, maybe there’s a festival somewhere for that too.
Plunging in Icy Water
Polar bear plunges are held in January in many parts of the US and Canada. Frequently hosted to benefit a charity or bring awareness to a cause, participants jump into a lake or river in often sub-zero temperatures wearing nothing but an ordinary swim suit.
As the clock strikes midnight on New Years Eve, people in many Spanish-speaking countries eat 12 grapes, one to bring good luck to each month of the coming year.
In Denmark smashing a plate against a friend’s door is supposed to bring good luck to your friend in the year ahead. The bigger the pile of shattered dishes on the welcome mat, the luckier the recipient will be next year.
In Cuba and other Latin American countries, throwing a bucket of water out your door or window signifies a fresh start. Extra points if someone who slighted you in the last year is standing below. (Just kidding about the extra points.)
In many Latin American countries, the underwear you choose to wear on New Year’s Eve will influence the upcoming year. Yellow is thought to bring good fortune, red brings good luck in love and black is bad luck.
Held in February, the Anchorage Fur Rendezvous Winter Festival, also known as Fur Rondy or just Rondy, bills itself as the largest winter festival in North America. Events include a snow sculpture competition, figure skating show, dog sled races, a beard and mustache competition, the annual Frostbite Footrace, an outhouse race and the World Championship of ice bowling. What’s not to love?
Speaking of unusual competitions, since all of us are cooped up indoors for a while longer, here’s an entertainment recommendation from Paul and me. If you happen to subscribe to Netflix, check out We Are the Champions. Narrated by Rainn Wilson from The Office, it’s a six-episode, reality TV show that takes you to a different strange competition each episode. From chasing cheese to dancing with dogs, we give it an H+ for hilarious. You’re welcome.
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