Poop Log!

So, it is Christmas Eve at last! We have saved the oddest tradition for last. Come to Spain, where they have the Tio de Nadal, or Christmas log.

Ratvaark talks to us in front of a scene in the parlour. Vincent and Micro are looking at a log in the fireplace.

From early December, the children of the house are encouraged to look after the log and give it little titbits to eat, in the hope that it will poop presents at Christmas!

Vincent and Micro look at the log, which has a smiling face painted on the end.

On Christmas Day, or Christmas Eve, the family hit the log with sticks, and sing a song, ordering it to poop! We think hitting it seems a bit cruel, so we’re doing it gently…

Vincent and Micro hit the log with little sticks.

Then, a blanket is placed over the log, and we must all go out of the room to pray for gifts… Some say this is when the parents make the magic happen.

Vincent places a crochet blanket over the log in the fireplace.

Look! Look! It’s worked. The log has pooped loads of chocolate coins! Who would have believed it!?

Vincent and Micro look at the log, which is now surrounded by gold chocolate coins.

So, it’s time for the last, big window. And of course, it’s a big jolly Father Christmas with a sack of presents!

Ratvaark looks at the final picture in the Calendar, a big Santa Claus.

And so, it’s time for us to take a break and enjoy our Christmas. A very Merry Christmas to you all, and may you have plenty to eat, and lots of fun, and, most important of all, many friends!

The vaarks are all gathered behind a sign reading We Wish You a Merry Christmas.

Norway’s clean sweep

We’re getting close to Christmas now. In Norway, the 23rd of December is “Little Christmas”, a chance to decorate the tree, and maybe give an early gift. So why have we got brooms?

Ernest, Winston and Ratvaark are in the parlour with a couple of brooms

Well, in Norway they hide all the brooms in the house, so that witches can’t steal them to ride! Good idea Ernest, put them behind the calendar.

Ernest tucks the brooms away behind the advent calendar.

Hello Esther. What’s that? You need to do some cleaning? No, no, we don’t know where the broom is, sorry!

Esther has arrived, carrying a dustpan, looking for a broom.

What’s the picture today Ernest? Ooh, a jockey on a horse.

Ernest looks at a picture of a jockey on a horse

A Welcome in Wales

Today, we’re staying quite close to home, with a tradition from Wales. It’s the Mari Lwyd! This strange looking thing is a horse skull, carried on a pole by someone hidden under a sheet.

Ratvaark talks us

Ratvaark is in the parlour, with Matilda, Fury and Winston who have brought the Mari Lwyd, a horse skull on top of a sheet worn by hypnovaark

The idea is that the people carrying the Mari Lwyd call at all the houses and each time they sing songs asking to come in. And the householders sing songs saying why they can’t come in, like a competition.

Ratvaark is talking to the Mari Lwyd

In the end, of course, the Mari Lwyd and everyone with it does come in, and we all have a festive drink!

Everyone is gathered around a table set out with bottles of drinks

While you’re here Fury, what’s on the calender? Oh, a sort of Christmas elf!

Fury looks at a picture of an elf on the calendar

Get your skates on.

Hello you two, where are you off to? Caracas in Venezuela? Um… Why?

Ratvaark talks to Fury and Winston who are sitting on skateboards

Oh! Apparently, in Caracas, a funny tradition has developed, where people roller skate to Church for Christmas services! The city even closes roads for them. What will they think of next!

Fury and Winston explain, with their skateboards flipped up.

What’s that squeaky noise? Oh, it’s Nano. He says he hasn’t got a roller skate, but can he come along on his tricycle? Well, of course!

The vaarks are joined by Nano on a tiny yellow tricycle.

Before you go Nano, have a look for today’s picture. Oh look, not a skate, but a sledge!

Nano looks at a picture of a sled on the advent calendar

Italy’s Old Lady

Gino is telling us about a Christmas story from Italy. They tell of an old woman called Befana, who flies on a broomstick. Some say she is looking for the baby Jesus, but she stops at every house where children hang out stockings.

Ratvaark, Vincent, Micro and Nano sit listening to Gino telling them a story.

Oh! Here she is! Now. I wonder if she thinks we’ve been good this year, or naughty. If we’re good, we get presents, if we’re naughty we get a piece of coal, or a stick.

Gino and the vaarks look at Peggy, who is dressed in a rough cape, and carrying a broomstick

Phew! I think we’ve been good. Thank you Befana!

A pile of brightly wrapped presents have appeared.

So, what’s the picture today. Ah, it’s the Man in the Moon!

Ratvaark looks at a picture of a moon face wearing a nightcap.

In a pickle!

Germany today and a funny tradition to do with Christmas tree decorations. The idea is that a decoration shaped like a pickled gherkin is hidden on the tree, and then everyone tries to find it!

Ratvaark looks at the Christmas tree which has garlands and baubles on it, and a pickle hidden among them,

There’s a prize for finding the pickle, so Winston and Vincent are very keen, but the telescope isn’t helping.

Winston is looking at the tree through a telescope balanced on Vincent’s head

Gino is going in close with his magnifying glass, but he can’t find it either.

Gino is inspecting the tree with a magnifying glass.

Nano and Dim have teamed up, to take advantage of Nano’s sharp eyes… and yes, there it is! And what a great prize, a big golden coin!

Nano sits on Dim’s head and spots the pickle decoration on the tree

Nano and Dim hold a big golden chocolate coin

Never mind Winston, you have a look for today’s picture. Ah, a little toy truck, lovely!

Winston looks at a picture of a toy truck on the calender

Sparkling fun!

In El Salvador, they like to celebrate Christmas with fireworks! We have decided to have some safe indoor fireworks. Arnold has laid out a special fireproof mat to protect the carpet. Look at the Roman Candles!

The vaarks are lined up watching a display of three little fireworks shooting sparks.

Oooh, aaah, look how pretty this one is!

Ratvaark looks at a roman candle sending up sparks

We’ve got sparklers too! Winston and Vincent like to make swirly patterns, but Fury always shows off and writes her name!

Winston and Vincent hold sparklers and swirly them in spirals

Fury writes her name with her golden sparkler

What’s in the window today Esther? Ah, a little church!

Esther looks at a picture of a little church.


A Mexican play!

Mexico today! In Mexico it is traditional to have Las Posadas, the Shepherds’ Plays – a sort of nativity play in a procession.

Various vaarks are dressed up in nativity costumes.

We do seem to be short of a shepherd though…

The vaarks look off to one side. Three pompom sheep sit in front of the scene.

Oh, hello Winston. Um, what are you wearing? Oh, I see. Yes, well I suppose a Mexican shepherd might wear a sombrero….

Winston arrives, dressed as a shepherd with a crook, wearing a sombrero

What can you see today Vincent? Oh look, a toy train!

Vincent looks up at a picture of a toy train

Sticky pudding!

We’re back in the Southern hemisphere again today, in South Africa. So we’ve got the Barbecue out again, of course.

Bernard is cooking on the barbecue

But there’s another traditional Christmas food in South Africa, the Malva Pudding! It’s a sort of sticky syrupy sponge pudding.

Bernard and Ratvaark look at a sticky syrup pudding on a dish

Well, the Malva pudding is proving very popular! But it is very sticky!

All the vaarks are gathered around the pudding

Ah, that’s very sensible Fury, a damp cloth and sponge to deal with sticky faces!

Fury has a bucket with a sponge and cloth in it.

So Gino, what’s the picture? Ah, a big Christmas stocking!

Creepy Krampus

Now, in Austria, they have a rather scary Christmas character! It’s Krampus! He works with St Nicholas, rattling his chains, and carrying a stick to hit naughty children! Rarrrr!

Ratvaark is dressed as krampas with horns, chains and a big stick

Aha, Micro and Nano, have you been good, or do I need to give you a swat?!

Krampas looks at Micro and Nano. Nano is hiding behind Micro

Oh. Oh hello Matilda, what do you want?

Matilda has come to protect Micro and Nano

Ah. Matilda thinks Krampus’ chains make a very trendy necklace. That’s the end of being menacing then!

Matilda is wearing Krampas’ golden chain as a necklace

What can we see today then? Ah, a little sledge!

Ratvaark looks at a picture of a sledge on the calendar.