If your family's awkward, wacky shenanigans each December are enough to make you second-guess bringing a girl home for the holidays, may we suggest a few destinations around the world where your drunk uncle Larry's antics are totally pedestrian? Don't try these at home -- or do! Just don't expect that girl to come back next year.
Wales, United Kingdom Welcome to your Welsh holiday nightmare, boys and girls, where it doesn't really feel like Christmas until they parade a dead horse's head through the streets. Their version of Santa Claus (weirdly crossed with the Virgin Mary) is 'Mari Lwyd' -- a horse skull that's mounted on a stick, dressed in a white cloak, and equipped with a spring-loaded jaw for snapping at kids and creating magical Christmas memories.
Where everybody laces up their skates
Caracas, Venezuela Children in Caracas traditionally tie a piece of string to one toe and dangle it out their bedroom window before going to bed on Christmas Eve. That's strange in itself, but it gets weirder (and even more '70s disco). On Christmas morning, the entire town roller skates to mass, en masse, and tugs on the hanging strings to wake the little ones. Admittedly, you would not be faulted for Googling to see if we made that up.
Where a log poops out gifts, naturally
Catalonia, Spain The creators of South Park weren't as original as we thought when they unveiled Mr. Hankey, the Christmas Poo. They were just inspired by Caga tío (the 'sh*tting log'). Here, Christmas gifts emerge from a hollowed-out log with a face painted on it. If the log gets backed up, they sing: “Sh*t log, sh*t nougats, hazelnuts and cheese! If you don’t sh*t well, I’ll hit you with a stick!”. Then comes the Christmas Enema. JK!
Where Santa's into… bondage?
Republic of Serbia Children in the former Yugoslavian states go to sinister lengths to get their greedy little hands on gifts early. Two Sundays before the big day, kids tie their mothers up and chant, “Mother’s Day, Mother’s Day, what will you pay to get away?”. Mom's then forced to cough up some early gifts before they'll untie her. The following Sunday they do the same thing to Dad -- no joke. Although, in the name of fairness, there's also a day of the year when parents tie their kids up and make them promise to behave. Clearly, the concept of Child and Family Services hasn't gotten to Serbia yet.
Greenland Hey Greenland, we eat a dead bird for Christmas dinner, too! Only we don't wrap it in a seal skin, shove it under a rock for months, dig it up at Christmas, squeeze out the rotten guts, and then dine on what's left of the carcass. But, hey, whatever you're in to. That's cool. Seriously, how is anyone in your country even alive?
Where Freud would have had a field day
Catalonia, again The Catalonian Christmas excrement doesn't end with the log. Oh, no, not even close. Their nativity scenes include the usual suspects: Mary, Joseph, baby Jesus... aaand a dude taking a dump around the back of the stable. We sh*t you not; known as 'caganers', these figures have been part of the local nativity story for centuries and were, no doubt, the most highly sought after part in many a third grade school play. Silent night, holy... crap!