Christmas traditions (1 Viewer)

billygannon

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In Northern Norway, near where Santa lives, the tradition is to bury a relative alive. The tradition is called Bjordejokke. The person who was buried the previous year is dug up and replaced with the new living body. The person being buried is usually intoxicated, having drunk a mixture of alcohol and juniper berries - called Smejlshce.

The head of the household prepares two drinks: one is non-alcoholic, usually made from a mixture of berries and apple juice; while the other is Smejlshce. The drinks are poured out, with one cup being filled with Smejlshce. Nobody knows which one is which. Therefore nobody knows who will be the person who drinks the Smejlshce cup, and is therefore buried alive. Tradition says the spirit Gwibli decides who it will be. Often Smejlshce is so strong the person who drinks it dies from alcohol poisoning.

The pitja, or grave, is usually ten feet deep. It is said it needs to be this deep so that the screams of the waking person are also buried.

Once the relative is buried, the rest of the family gather around a fire next to the pitja, reading books, telling tall tales and exchanging gifts. The fire is often made up of the possessions of the relative who was buried. Traditionally the remaining family members eat a sweet bread called bjordifon, which is shaped like the head of an infant child.

The body of the relative who was dug up is wrapped in clothing and brought out in to the icy wilderness, where it is left for polar bears, or other such Arctic animals, to eat.
 

billygannon

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Southwick-on-Bourne is a small village in rural Somerset, England.

On the 26th December every year the residents of the village gather together in the local hall and together, they compose a lengthy letter to the King or Queen of England. Every resident, regardless of age, is required to write one line of the letter.

These letters are usually incoherent, which each line disconnected to the previous one. Effectively it's just a long stream of statements. Although many residents (called Southies) make some effort to compose something witty or insightful, most Southies resort to writing "We Southies take thee for our Monarchy, for next year and eternity".

The letter is bound in canvas and sealed using wax and an ancient bronze seal called the Southie Stamp. It is then sent directly to the reigning monarch of England.

To date there are 634 of these letters held by the Palace. However the tradition is longer than 634 years old, as many have gone missing, or there have been years where it has not been possible to deliver them (e.g. the reign of Cromwell or World War II).
 

billygannon

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Gwilliams Dental and Medical is a small manufacturer of medical and dental devices which is based just outside Rochester, NY.
The employees of Gwilliams have an unusual Christmas custom.

The founder of Gwilliams was a local man called Bill Gwilliam. Mr. Gwilliam was a hard-nosed businessman, and many people suspected he suffered psychologically from his time in the Second World War. He founded the company in 1952, using money his family gave to him and savings he had accumulated.

Gwilliam detested festivals and a few years after he set up his manufacturing business, he banned Christmas - and any other festival. This enraged his small number of employees, but because there was a lack of employment opportunities in the area, they had to comply. For several years the employees of Gwilliams worked on Christmas day.

Bill Gwilliam passed away in 1983 and control of the business was handed to his nephew Lorenzo Spanz. Spanz had made a small fortune in commodity trading and was somewhat detached from the day-to-day business of Gwilliams Dental and Medical. In fact he was so removed from the business that Spanz didn't appoint a senior management team. Essentially the factory was run by the employees.

Despite the absence of management, Gwilliams Dental and Medical thrived in the 1980's and 90's. It was during this time that the bizarre Christmas tradition started.

No one can quite remember what year this Yuletide custom started, but it all began when one employee, Carl Fernazzi, turned up to work dressed as the ghost of Bill Gwilliam. Fernazzi had a serious problem with alcoholism and described himself as a conceptual artist. He died in 1990 after driving a Toyota pickup in to an ice cream parlour near Niagara Falls. Fernazzi spent the day shouting at his colleagues and threatening to take away their possessions and enslave them. At first people took this in good spirits, but as the day went on people became more and more annoyed. Eventually a fist-fight broke out. Fernazzi was knocked out cold and didn't return to work for another four weeks.

The following year Fernazzi did the same thing. Again, this ended in a big fist-fight, involving several employees. One group just wanted to keep working, while the others were part of the "Artistic Endeavours Department" - or AED - a group of Gwilliams Dental and Medical employees who supported the artistic work of Fernazzi.

This continued for a couple of years, until one year the group of workers who weren't in the AED decided to turn up to work dressed as Santa Claus.

After Fernazzi died the employees decided to reenact this fist-fight at Christmas every year: one half dressed as Santa, the other dressed as Fernazzi dressed as Bill Gwilliam.

The tradition has continued to this day, and is now held in a local boxing club on the 23rd December every year.
 

billygannon

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These days many people order their Christmas presents from Amazon. The townspeople of Rousseau, New Mexico had a Christmas tradition relating to the ubiquitous online retailer.

Sparrowhawk is a software development company based in Rousseau and a big local employer, employing a couple of hundred people. One Christmas a group of employees at this company were working the day after Christmas. They were doing a "nightwatchman" shift, ensuring all the systems were running smoothly over the holiday period. Naturally they were quite bored and so they began to entertain themselves.
One employee wrote a comic review of a product on Amazon. It was a gift he had received, and his hilarious review contained many in-jokes about Sparrowhawk and some local people in Rousseau. He shared it with some colleagues, who then went on to write funny reviews about gifts they received. Everyone enjoyed it so much, it was decided that from then on, anyone working the holiday season in Sparrowhawk would write funny reviews on Amazon.

After a couple of years word about this "dot com" tradition spread around Rousseau. Other residents of the town started to write reviews about gifts they'd received. There was an element of competition, with people trying to write the funniest reviews.

This continued on for another few years, but unfortunately it came to a abrupt and sorry end. Gaston Xerox (formerly John Brandley) wrote a review about a My Little Pony doll. The review was astonishingly dark, containing several crypto-fascist references and calling for Rousseau to be a "whites only" town. This very controversial review was picked up by Amazon. Indeed, it transpired that Xerox had written several other reviews during the Christmas holidays, and, like many people from Rousseau, had been doing this for a number of years. However Xerox had used a number of different pseudonyms and user names. Amazon took the decision to ban any user from Rousseau from writing reviews of their products. The ban is still in place today.

Xerox subsequently died after being shot in a "pistols-at-dawn" duel. Xerox was a prominent member of the New Mexico branch of the Historyquest Historical Re-Enactment Society. He had a long-standing quarrel with fellow member, Vernon Ng, over a woman called Michelle Saunders. Xerox challenged Ng to a duel, which Ng accepted. However Xerox assumed this would be a harmless historical re-enactment, using a set of dice to decide the outcome. Therefore he brought along a toy musket. Ng, on the other hand, had murderous intent and brought along a loaded vintage musket. Xerox was defenseless and, with one shot, Ng managed to blow Xerox's face off.

In the trial that followed it turned out that Michelle Saunders had never met Ng or Xerox. She did recall that she would have often have a coffee break across from where Historyquest members met. She referred to them as those "Shakespeare weirdos, always prancing around like a bunch of pansies".
 
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billygannon

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Santa Claus is synonymous with Christmas, with children all around the world paying a visit to see Santa Claus in towns and villages all over the world. Of course these Santa Claus's are impersonators - older men doing good, wholesome seasonal work dressed up as Saint Nick.

The members of the Großerschaft Gesellschaft, a BDSM club in the city of Münster, Germany, have their own take on visiting Santa Claus.

On the 3rd December every year they erect a grotto in the dungeons of the group leader, Hans Frisling. Frisling is a wealthy and flamboyant businessman, who owns a large estate outside of Münster. He famously has a complex of dungeons underneath his stately home, which he openly uses to pursue his BDSM lifestyle.

Frisling claims to have many wives, although he is not legally married. One of his wives is simply called La Enfermera, a tall woman from Honduras who has lived with Frisling for the past 18 years.

La Enfermera dresses up as Santa Claus and entertains visitors who come to her. As you'd probably expect the gifts she gives her visitors are sex toys!

Although this has been a rather peaceful and relatively non-eventful tradition, there was a serious incident in 2014. One member of the Großerschaft Gesellschaft, Dieter Brummer, insisted on bringing his horse. Brummer was a keen horseman, but perhaps this was somewhat excessive. Brummer's horse, called Blitz, was frightened by the confined conditions of the dungeon grotto and, as you'd expect, went wild. Blitz managed to destroy the grotto and also kicked La Enfermera in the face, resulting in her needed reconstructive surgery.

Brummer was subsequently banned from the group. As part of the reconstructive surgery La Enfermera asked if she could have a beard surgically added to her face. The doctors agreed and now she sports a long, white beard all year round.
 

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