The tradition of Santa giving bad kids the undesirable present of coal in their Christmas stockings derives from earlier European traditions. Both the Befana, the Italian Yuletide witch and Krampus, the bizarre Christmas demon of Austria, have punished bad children with gifts of coal for centuries.Know More
The horned Krampus, monstrous and horrifying in appearance, accompanies Saint Nicholas on his house visits, frightening and threatening the bad children and giving them coal. Regional variations of Krampus include the Swiss Schmuztli and the Bavarian Pelzebock.
Though a more amiable being, the Italian La Befana is a witch. Her story begins on the night of the Nativity, when the shepherds asked her to come along with them to the site of the miraculous birth. She declined, and did so again when the Magi invited her, preferring to stay and sweep the floors. Soon she realized her error, and since then, so the story goes, La Befana has been looking in every house for the Holy Infant.
She flies on a broomstick, distributing gifts to worthy children on Jan. 6, the feast of the Epiphany. Italian Children receive presents from both La Befana and Santa. In contemporary times, all of the children also receive coal in the form of a black, blocky candy called carbone dolce della Befana, or Befana's sweet coal.Learn more about Cultures & Traditions
Christmas traditions in El Salvador include large family feasts and fireworks. Like many South American countries, church services play a big part in the celebrations.Full Answer >
Traditional Italian Christmas outfits or costumes are knee-high breeches paired with white stockings and vibrant sheepskin vests. Dark cloaks are worn over the entire ensemble.Full Answer >
In Ecuador, Christmas is celebrated by putting up traditional Christmas trees with straw ornaments, playing a Ronador, using Aventadors, taking holiday tours, putting up nativity scenes, making special treats and putting Christmas lists in old shoes. In Ecuador, the standard Christmas greeting is "Felize Navidad."Full Answer >
The traditional Christmas dinner in Germany is roast poultry or game served with apple and sausage stuffing, potato dumplings and red cabbage. This is often followed by the German fruitcake, stollen. Gluhwein, which is mulled red wine that is sometimes mixed with brandy, might also be served.Full Answer >