The Arizona Cardinals have labored through a difficult season, and like naughty children, they won’t receive the Christmas gift they coveted—an invitation to the playoffs.
Today they’re simply playing for a consolation prize—the chance to play spoiler and defeat playoff-bound Seattle. In the chill breezes that slip over Bainbridge Island and swirl through CenturyLink Field, the Cardinals might warm themselves with memories of their last two treks north, when they returned home with hard-fought victories. A Christmas Eve loss today would really roast Coach Bruce Arians’ chestnuts.
As you settle in to watch today’s game and nibble on fruitcake and gingerbread cookies, consider other Christmas culinary traditions from around the world:
- South Africans sample the deep-fried caterpillars of the Emperor Moth
- Many Japanese families enjoy KFC on Christmas, thanks to an effective 1974 ad campaign
- In Slovakia, the oldest man of the house scoops up a spoonful of Loksa pudding and whips it at the ceiling. The more that sticks, the better.
- In Greenland, raw whale skin is served with a side of blubber, and some enjoy kiviak—500 dead auk birds fermented for seven months inside a seal skin
And be mindful of other unusual Christmas traditions today:
- Urged on by raucous Seattle fans, the Seahawks’ defense may well rise up like the Kallikantzaroi, a race of evil goblins that according to Greek legend lurk underground and then surface to wreak havoc during the 12 days of Christmas.
- Seahawks’ All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman is a bit like the Yule Cat, a mythical Icelandic beast that is said to stalk the hills devouring those who haven’t received new clothes before Christmas.
- Hard-hitting safety Earl Thomas might be compared to Krampus, a Christmas devil who beats poorly-behaved children with branches.
- And be thankful for the spirited cheerleaders today in their traditional outfits. At Christmastime in Bavaria, male revelers wear lederhosen and fire mortars into the air.
There, we’ve done it. We’ve diverted our attention for a few moments from the mournful fact that such a promising Cardinals team has stumbled to a 5-8-1 mark this year. This season’s story is all but written, and is rich with unpleasantries.
Still, the tale may be preferable to the story South African children are told about Danny, a young boy who angered his grandmother by eating the Christmas cookies that were left for Santa. In her rage she killed him, and he is now said to haunt homes at Christmastime.
This blog is not sponsored by a generous grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation