Traveling to different places in the world gives me an excuse to investigate folk traditions in fabric design. Something I find incredibly inspirational when it comes to designing my own artwork. Fabric and furnishings can also reflect the cultural and historical nuances and traditions of a region.
Norwegian embroidery and weaving
Where would you find a beautiful fabric motif like this, but Innsbruck?!
Hardanger embroidery on a cafe curtain
Norway is a country, where you will find many original and distinctive fabrics in many different forms.
Click on each individual photo to see a larger version
I find there to be profound wisdom in proverbs, sayings and quotes and I marvel at the way they are so succinct in communicating messages to the reader. Mostly anonymous, they come to us from past generations and from across cultures. They speak of the experiences of lives lived and lessons learned. Quotes, like proverbs, make us think more deeply about something.
Each Thursday, I post a Proverb or Saying and a Quote that I find thought-provoking. I hope you will, too.
“A blind chicken will often find an ear of corn.” – Austrian Proverb
Once you realise your past is just a story, it has no power over you
Everyone has certain traditions surrounding Christmas or Juletide. Some come from one’s own heritage, or upbringing, whilst others have more modern origins.Likewise in our house, we have a mix of Danish/Australian traditions and some we have created ourselves like the fact that we always have lollie jars for the kids and candy ‘teeth’ sweets and bon bon hats are a must. (Nothing like pretending you have a large overbite and wear pointed paper hats for a good laugh). Traditionally Danish Christmas eve Dinner is held on December 24th, and accordingly we open one present after dinner, and then follow Australian traditions of opening the rest of the presents on the morning of December 25. The lollie jars started out with dinner, when the kids were young, but even so, my big kids, a.k.a. men, still ask for them. 🙂
Christmas day Dec 25, itself, might be spent visiting relatives or playing water volleyball in the backyard swimming pool, seeing relatives, or trying to keep cool in the sweltering heat. Notoriously Christmas day can be around 37 degrees celsius, so one sits inside with the air con on ‘high cool’, lying around watching old home videos that make one laugh and sometimes, cry.
There are , however, some more unusual traditions than ours. For example:
Based on old Germanic folklore, Austrians, (not to be confused with Australians, who have the kangaroos), start celebrating Christmas on December 5, with Santa’s evil twin, the “Krampus”, a devil like figure with horns, which roams the streets with his evil accomplice, (who brandishes a whip and stick amd threatens naughty children who’ve misbehaved throughout the year). Traditionally, young men dress up with the hairy ‘Krampus’ masks and roam the streets creating havoc, hitting people with sticks. An excuse for outlandish drunken behaviour, methinks. But it is tradition, designed to make children toe the line for the next year. Luckily, when I met the Krampus, he was in a good mood and without his heinous accomplice!
Other strange Christmas traditions I found on openjourneys.com
In Czech republic on Christmas Eve, “unmarried Czech women practice a traditional fortune telling method to predict their relationship status for the upcoming year. If you’d like to give this a try, here’s how to do it: Stand with your back to your door and toss one of your shoes over your shoulder. If it lands with the toe facing the door it means that you will get married within the year. If it lands with the heel facing the door, you’re in for another year of unmarried status“.
In Japan, children eat Kentucky Fried Chicken on Christmas Day!
In Catalonia, life at Christmas is surely different:
“Caga Tió, the pooping log, is a bizarre Christmas tradition. It starts with a hollowed out log, which is propped up on four little leg-like sticks and then painted to have a face. Every night, beginning December 8th, Caga Tió is “fed” and covered with a blanket (so that he doesn’t catch a cold). On Christmas Eve or Christmas day Caga Tió is put in the fireplace, beaten with a stick and ordered to “poop”. He is encouraged, along with the beating, by singing songs with catchy lyrics such as:
caga tió (poop log) caga torró (poop turrón) avellanes i mató (hazelnuts and cottage cheese) si no cagues bé (if you don’t poop well) et daré un cop de bastó. (I’ll hit you with a stick.) caga tió!” (poop log!)
When he is done pooing candies, nuts and such, Caga Tió will then give one last push to reveal an onion, a head of garlic or a salt herring.” (from openjourneys.com)
“In Caracas, Venezuela, church-goers attend an early morning mass between December 16th and December 24th. Not so strange for a mostly Catholic population. What is unusual about this practice is how everyone gets to church: on roller skates. The streets are blocked off to vehicular traffic until 8 am and children, the night before, tie one end of a piece of string to their big toes and hang the other end out the window. As roller skaters go by the next morning, they give a tug to all the strings hanging out the windows.” That is one way to get the kids up and going to Church.
Then there is always the Nisser in Danmark and Norway, which must be kept happy. Tradition dictates that one must leave a bowl of risengrøt or rice porridge to the little nisse/elf, that lives in the barn, so that he may bring good luck to all. Otherwise, he may play some naughty tricks on the home owners.
Perhaps the strangest of all, is the ones found in “parts of Spain, Portugal and Italy, is to set up a model village of Bethlehem.
Along with Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus, a Caganer, or “Shitter” in English, is placed in the scene. The Caganer is a figurine, traditionally of a man, in the act of defecating, pants around his knees bending over with pile of feces at his heels. He is usually placed in a corner, perhaps because he needs privacy. The Caganer has been around for a few hundred years and in recent times it has evolved from a traditionally dressed man taking care of business to figurines of celebrities, nuns, politicians and Santa Claus.” (source: openjourneys.com)
And I thought my tradition of having candy teeth at Christmas time, was a little weird!!
Do you have unusual traditions at your house? Something I’ll ponder about.
Whatever your tradition, may your Christmas be a happy and healthy one, full of fond memories, and love and peace. Glaedelig jul, God jul, Merry Christmas to you all.