Amazing Stories for Curious Minds

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Latest Stories by Abigail Osbourne

Knecht Ruprecht by Odd Feed

Knecht Ruprecht: Santa’s German Helper

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.


Belsnickel by Odd Feed. (© Odd Feed)

Cheer or Fear, Belsnickel is here!

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!


A painting of Krampus with the Alpine mountains in the background. 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. (© Odd Feed)

The Legend of Krampus: The Alpine Anti-Santa

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. 


El Caganer (which literally means "the pooper") is a common sight in nativity scenes in Catalonia, Murcia, Valencia, parts of Portugal and even Naples. (© Odd Feed)

Meet the Caganer, Catalonia’s Most Scatological Christmas Guest

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!


In 1918, Austrian artist Oskar Kokoschka commissioned a life-sized sex doll of his former lover, Alma Mahler (widow of composer Gustav Mahler and then-wife of architect Walter Gropius). He dressed it in custom-made clothes and took it with him on trips, to cafés, and to the theater. He destroyed it publicly several years later, claiming it had “cured him of his passions." 

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