The Vatican, unable to prove the existence of modern-day Santa Claus decided to tell kids that a kindly old witch, La Befana, delivers presents to them. So instead of waiting enthusiastically for Santa to arrive in his reindeer sleigh, the children dreams of a witch bringing them Christmas gifts. So let me get this straight – Santa Clause is a witch? Is Santa Clause a good witch or a bad witch?
On the morning of Christmas day, people in Portugal have a traditional feast called ‘consoda’ with a twist; not only does the family get together to eat but also dead people are invited. Extra places are set and food is offered to the deceased.
In parts of Austria, Bavaria and Switzerland, the last month of the year is also a time, especially for naughty kids, to be scared! Traditionally, young men dress up as the Krampus, a devil-demon creature equipped with cow bells and rods, usually accompanied by the Nikolaus (a sort of Santa Clause) and roam the streets to frighten children as well as adults. This is called a Krampuslauf.
A typical Christmas tradition in Spain involves putting up a ‘belen’, part of the nativity scene – the day when baby Jesus wasborn and the three wise men arrived in Bethlehem. Except, among the figurines, you’ll find a character called ‘El Caganer’ (translated to the great defecator). In Catalonia, this figure is particularly popular. He’s literally defecating– the “fertilizer” means the year will yield a good harvest. Well isn’t that just special!
It begs the question: Does the Belen s–t in the woods?