I’m so tired of the “naughty or nice” theme around Christmas giving. I’ve said before that Santa Claus doesn’t work that way and that those who say he does are assholes. Santa Claus is awesome and his story doesn’t need to continue being polluted with this manipulative nonsense.
There’s so much more to Christmas than this. There are legends and folklore from all over the place associated with the season. Let’s have a look!
First, here’s Befana:
In popular folklore Befana visits all the children of Italy on the eve of the Feast of the Epiphany to fill their socks with candy and presents if they are good or a lump of coal or dark candy if they are bad. In many poorer parts of Italy and in particular rural Sicily, a stick in a stocking was placed instead of coal.
D’oh! That’s no better. Still the good-bad nonsense.
Oh, well. Let’s try the Belsnickel:
The Belsnickel shows up at houses 1–2 weeks before Christmas and often created fright because he always knew exactly which of the children misbehaved. He is typically very ragged and mean looking. He wears torn, tattered, and dirty clothes, and he carries a switch in his hand with which to beat bad children.
What the holy fuck?!
Maybe Iceland is more sensible with this Grýla character:
She has the ability to detect children who are misbehaving year-round. During Christmas time, she comes from the mountains to search nearby towns for her meal. She leaves her cave and hunts for the children. She devours children as her favorite snack. Her favorite dish is a stew of naughty kids and she had an insatiable appetite.
Finland? How about Joulupukki?
Joulupukki knocks on the front door during Christmas Eve celebrations. Upon entering, he traditionally greets the household with “Onko täällä kilttejä lapsia?” (“Are there [any] well-behaved children here?”).
How about this Knecht Ruprecht thing?
According to tradition, Knecht Ruprecht asks children whether they can pray. If they can, they receive apples, nuts, and gingerbread. If they cannot, he beats the children with his bag of ashes. In other (presumably more modern) versions of the story, Knecht Ruprecht gives naughty children useless, ugly gifts such as lumps of coal, sticks, and stones, while well-behaving children receive sweets from Saint Nicholas. He also can be known to give naughty children a switch (stick) in their shoes for their parents to beat them with, instead of candy, fruit and nuts, in the German tradition.
Gaaahhh!!! What is wrong with these people?!
I have a bad feeling about Krampus:
Krampus carries chains, thought to symbolize the binding of the Devil by the Christian Church. He thrashes the chains for dramatic effect. The chains are sometimes accompanied with bells of various sizes. Of more pagan origins are the ruten, bundles of birch branches that Krampus carries and occasionally swats children with. The ruten have significance in pre-Christian pagan initiation rites. The birch branches are replaced with a whip in some representations. Sometimes Krampus appears with a sack or a washtub strapped to his back; this is to cart off evil children for drowning, eating, or transport to Hell.
*headdesk* *headdesk* *headdesk*
Well, Olentzero looks okay at first glance, maybe:
in Areso children would be told to come home early. An adult would then dress up as Olentzero and scare the children still out on the streets with a sickle.
in Berastegi if the children did not want to go to bed, a sickle would be thrown down the chimney and the children told that Olentzero would come to cut their throats if they didn’t go to bed. In Dima a straw puppet dressed as Olentzero with a sickle would be hung from the church tower after the midnight mass on Christmas Eve and if children had been behaving badly, people would say Onontzaro begi-gorri txaminira da etorri, austen baldin badegu barua, orrek lepoa kendu guri “Olentzero with the red eyes has come to the chimney, if we break the fast, he will cut our throats” – referring to the traditional fast in the week before Christmas.
NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE
Dare I ask what Père Fouettard is?
This “Whipping Father” was said to bring a whip with him to spank all of the naughty kids who misbehaved.
An innkeeper (or in other versions a butcher) captures three boys who appear to be wealthy and on their way to enroll in a religious boarding school. Along with his wife, he kills the children in order to rob them. One gruesome version tells that they drug the children, slit their throats, cut them into pieces, and stew them in a barrel. St. Nicholas discovers the crime and resurrects the children. After this, Le Père Fouettard repents and becomes St. Nick’s partner. A slightly altered version of this story claims that St. Nicholas forced Le Père Fouettard to become his assistant as a punishment for his crimes.
In the 1930s, Le Père Fouettard appeared in the United States under the translated name Father Flog or Spanky. Although almost identical to the original French personification, Father Flog had nothing to do with Christmas and also had a female accomplice named Mother Flog. The two doled out specific punishments for specific childhood crimes (e.g. cutting out the tongue for lying).
Wha- how- when did- what is- how- huh?
And who are these Yule Lads?
They put rewards or punishments into shoes placed by children in window sills during the last thirteen nights before Christmas Eve. Every night, one Yuletide lad visits each child, leaving gifts or rotting potatoes, depending on the child’s behavior throughout the year.
They would trek from the mountains to scare Icelandic children who misbehaved before Christmas. Additionally, the Yule Lads are often depicted with the Yule Cat, a beast that, according to folklore, eats children who don’t receive new clothes for Christmas.
That’s it. I’m done. I’m so fucking done.
Maybe Christmas needs to be more about Jesus after all. The Nativity story is just nice. No horrible abuse or murder of children for stupid petty reasons- Oh, wait. That’s right. Herod.