One of Santa’s most intriguing companions, Knecht Ruprecht is a legendary figure in German folklore, attested as early as the 17th century. A wild, shaggy-haired figure dressed in dark, fur-trimmed clothing, he is said to roam the countryside during the Christmas season, dolling out punishments to all the naughty children, while Santa rewards the good.
Dwight K. Shrute: What about an authentic Pennsylvania Dutch Christmas? Drink some gluhwein, enjoy some hasenpfeffer. Enjoy Christmas with saint Nicolas’ rural German companion, Belsnickel. Jim Halpert: Yes! That, that, that! We’re definitely doing that. Are we all in agreement? OddFeed: Yes, yes, a resounding yes!
The 19th-century children’s book Der Struwwelpeter is a fascinating collection of illustrated tales about misbehaving children and their horrific punishments. While these stories would be considered highly inappropriate for today’s children, they have greatly influenced modern children’s literature, comic books, and pop culture.
Albert Einstein believed his youngest son Eduard had the potential to follow in his footsteps. Tragically, the brilliant young man’s battle with mental illness and his family’s inability to find effective and cruelty-free treatments led to a life of loneliness and anonymity.
In Icelandic folklore, Jólakötturinn, or the Yule Cat, is a giant, monstrous cat said to prowl through the villages at Christmas, on the lookout for misbehaving children to eat for dinner—lest they have some new clothes!
For hundreds of years, just before they are visited by Santa, children in the Alpine regions of Germany, Austria, the Czech Republic and Slovenia have to ride out the coming of his dark companion—a long-tongued goat-like demon from Hell known as Krampus.
The main difference between Santa Claus and La Befana—Italy’s two most beloved gift-givers—is that the latter one visits children on the night before Epiphany, rather than on Christmas Eve. She’s also, well, a witch.
What do you get when you cross Celtic Halloween traditions, French cream puffs, traditional carol singing, piñata-like sweets-filled barrels, and large, large amounts of food? The answer is three Icelandic holidays, celebrated in the days leading up to Lent: Bolludagur, Sprengidagur and Öskudagur.
Nowadays a popular Christmas ornament, the Yule Goat was once a Scandinavian version of Santa and, for centuries before that, he was a dying-and-rising deity bringing good luck and fertility to those who celebrated it. Join us as we try to trace back his origins—and resurrect his fascinating history!
Traditional nativity scenes show the Three Wise Men visiting the infant Jesus on the night of his birth in an animal-filled manger. Catalan nativity scenes are somewhat different: they also include a red-hatted farmer, squatting, with his pants around his knees and his bare buttocks exposed. Meet the Caganer, a saintly defecator!