Around the world, different cultures have different Christmas Eve traditions. Here you’ll discover some of the characters or creatures who, legend has it, may come calling on children…depending on if they’re naughty or nice.
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Santa Claus vs. Krampus
Santa – He’s a “jolly spirit” who travels around the world delivering Christmas gifts to good children.
Krampus – This half goat, half demon creature carries a bundle of birch sticks and a burlap sack with chains to punish the naughty kids on Christmas.
There’s more to Christmas folklore than just Santa and Krampus. If you are looking for the other mythical creatures, here’s a few that can be good, evil or somewhere in between.
Reindeer – These loveable flying creatures help Santa make his magic trip around the world. Good children hear the reindeers’ footsteps on their roofs. This lets them know they’re about to get a gift.
La Befana (Italy) – Although she may be ugly, the children love her. This witch hands out presents to all of the kids who have been good throughout the year.
Elves (US, Britain, Canada) – Unlike the greedy scarecrow seen on the right, these handy helpers make sure the toys are ready and may even help deliver them with Santa.
Sinterklaas (Spain) – This happy creature travels by steamboat every Christmas to give treats and snacks to good boys and girls.
Olentzero (Basque Country) – This friendly giant hands out gifts to all of the good boys and girls while eating tons of food and drinking wine.
Jólakötturinn (Iceland) – This evil cat eats children who don’t finish their chores. If you get new clothing for Christmas, he’ll leave you alone. If you don’t, you’re cat food!
Frau Perchta (Germany and Austria) – This evil witch tends to the forest all but the 12 days of Christmas. During this time she comes to human villages and rips out the intestines of the bad children replacing them with garbage.
Hans Trapp (France) – This evil and greedy man dresses as a scarecrow and hides in the forest to capture, punish, and eat naughty kids who wander by.
Kallikantzaroi (Greece, Turkey, Serbia) – These goblins play pranks and cause mischief. They’re also known to make your food rot. Be cautious because if you have a child born on one of the 12 days of Christmas, there’s a chance that they could turn into one of these.
Gryla – Mother of the Yule Kids and evil Ogre. She loves causing mischief and will lure bad children to her cave where she tortures and eats them.
Neither Good Nor Evil:
Belsnickel (Pennsylvania Dutch) – This spirit comes wearing tattered clothes and will frighten you with his whip if you were bad or reward you with candy if you’ve been good.
Jólasveinar – The Yule Lads started out as evil but eventually discovered good. Although they still cause mischief, if you’ve been good during the year, they may leave you a gift.
No matter where you live, if people celebrate Christmas you’ll have your own unique traditions and mythology. If you need to send gifts overseas, let us be your delivery “sleigh”. We can help with Hannukah gifts too so all your Jewish friends can rejoice too!