Definition of Tradition: ‘The reason for doing things which have no apparent reason.’

Son: “Dad, why are you peeing on the cat”
Dad: “Because it is Tradition God Damnit. Every July 23rd we pee on a cat. My Father peed on a cat, his father peed on a cat and you’re also gonna pee on the cat.” (definition via


I found and quite enjoyed that definition of tradition in UrbanDictionary. Or in the Easter European version the definition could be:

Daughter (sobbing): “Dad, why are pounding Franek (the carp that’s been living in our bathtub for a week and has become my dear friend) on the head with a hammer.”
Dad: “Because it is Tradition God Damnit. Every December 24rd we pound a carp on the head with a hammer in order to kill it and eat for the Christmas Eve supper. My Father has pounded a carp with a hammer, his father has pounded a carp with a hammer and you’re also gonna pound a carp with a hammer and then slit his throat open with a knife to kill it just in time for the Christmas Eve supper.” (definition via

So there.

Traditions don’t always make a lot of sense, but the whole point is that you don’t question a tradition – it is what it is, right? That’s the way it’s always been done, and it needs to be respected, not examined or changed.

Traditions certainly don’t need to be improved, because they link us to the past. Right?


As human consciousness and society evolve, the existing customs and traditions need to EVOLVE as well.

Or, to put it bluntly:

Traditions that are totally FUCKED UP simply MUST EVOLVE OR DIE!

(and if you know me personally, you know that I never SWEAR, and certainly NOT IN PUBLIC, but sometimes it’s really the only way to call attention to something that’s SO WRONG, so I’m re-thinking my approach to that kind of language after reading this post.)

There are certainly plenty of traditions that we can do without. They come from the past, a completely different point in time, where certain conditions required things to be done in a certain way – and these conditions usually don’t exist anymore. The world has changed, our understanding of things has changed; we like to take pride in our scientific accomplishments, technological, economical, and cultural. Our civilization is constantly evolving, and while we must remember our past, and don’t get disconnected from it, the truth is…

There are plenty of traditions that are outdated, destructive, disgusting, or PLAIN EVIL – and these so-called “traditions” need to EVOLVE or go extinct already, disappear from our modern world, and only be remembered as a thing of the past.

Take for example this totally SICK AND VIOLENT custom of buying a LIVE CARP for Christmas, keeping it IN YOUR BATHTUB for a couple of days, killing it with your own hands, preparing and eating on Christmas Eve supper. WTF? 

If you’re wondering where this wonderful  f*cked tradition comes from – it’s something that’s happening in Poland and other nearby nations, including Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Austria, Germany and Croatia — the fish can actually live in the bathtub for days. Kids name them and play with them. People can’t bathe.

And as magically as the beautifully decorated Christmas tree appears, the pet carp’s life not-so-magically ends. Traditionally, the father takes the live fish from the family tub and, in most cases, slices its head off with a knife. If he’s wants to do it in a more compassionate way, he first knocks the fish unconscious with a hammer. It can be more difficult than it sounds. Carp is slippery, and sensing the end, fights for his/her life. (Some families report ending up having to repaint their kitchen after Christmas, and some actually let the fish go free, unable to go through with their plans to transform it into dinner.)

An alternative is to buy from a street vendor who’s keeping the fish in small tanks — they barely have any water at all, and most of them are suffocating— dying a painful and terrible death, to pick one is just right for your family, then have the stall owner to kill the fish for you, right then and there — so you can take it home and prepare accordingly to be consumed on Christmas Eve.

OR — as more and more people do it these days, just buying a fish that’s dead already from the store, saving yourself the gory details and just taking it home and preparing accordingly to be consumed on Christmas Eve.

Three versions of what is basically the same thing — with varying degree of participation — sometimes it’s a DIY (Doing-It-Yourself) and sometimes it’s SEDIY (Someone-Else-Doing-It-for-You).

Same difference.

But back to carp.

So, how did this “tradition” start?

Carp is the traditional centerpiece on the table, as a part of 12 courses served on Christmas Eve in Poland, as night falls. For centuries, families throughout much of central Europe have relied on the common carp as the main course for Christmas Eve dinner. But getting from  the lake (or carp farm) to table was not so simple, and as the tradition goes, the Christmas carp must first swim in the family bathtub for at least a day or two before being killed, cleaned and prepared.

One explanation is that carp are bottom feeders. The idea is that a few days swimming in clean water helps to flush mud from the fish’s digestive tract. (It would actually take a lot longer than that for this trick to work, according to fisheries scientists.)

Some note that the tub time was a practical way to store fish before refrigerators became common. During the communist period, there certainly was a lack of refrigerators, and putting carp into the bathtub was the only way of keeping the fish fresh.  Finally, eating carp was affordable for everyone.

My totally un-scientific and unproven hypothesis is that this is our PALEO ancestry waking up once a year, to balance out all the merciful and loving spirit that’s in the air at that special time of the year. 

To look the beast in the eye and let the killer ape do his thing!

When I was growing up, I didn’t question it – even though I did feel awful about my dad killing the fish – but today when I think about it as a vegan – slaughtering a living being right on the Christmas Eve, a celebration of peace and joy – with a painful death – really??

It’s time to EVOLVE, people!

It’s time for EVOLUTION — to the next stage of human consciousness and spirit.

It’s time for REVOLUTION — I’m afraid the change won’t happen without it.

Today, we don’t need to resort to cruel practices to make sure our food is fresh – we have refrigerators. But what’s even more important, we don’t have to resort to violence, and killing either. There is plenty of NON-VIOLENT FOOD available that will satisfy our appetites and maintain our good health.

Today, we don’t need Carp for Christmas, Turkey for Thanksgiving, or BEEF for Dinner.

We don’t need local cuisine specialties akin the Eastern European tripe soup aka flaki.

Our culinary traditions need to evolve to keep up with the evolution of human consciousness that make the adoption of compassionate and just way of living and eating inevitable.

Or, to put it bluntly once again:

Traditions that are totally F*CKED UP simply MUST EVOLVE OR DIE!


So, yeah…

Oh, and Merry Christmas to all of you who celebrate this wonderful time of the year!





P.S. This has been on my mind — so I wrote it down and published on my blog and my social media. I may even use it as a chapter if one of my upcoming books. What’s on your mind?  And have you been sharing your thoughts lately? Or you just suck it up and keep your feelings inside of you — not to antagonize, not be different, not be labelled as an obnoxious, angry vegan, or a weirdo?

The world needs you. The animals need YOU to start speaking up and sharing your truth.

I invite you to join the #SpeakYourTruth CHALLENGE and unleash your inner warrior.  It’s about sharing our truth with the world, telling it like it is — the way we see it, and taking ACTION. Join HERE.




Queuing for carps in Krakow, Poland. Posted by Sanne Aabjerg Kristiansen on Flickr.