Santa Claus breakfast Dec 2021 Photo: Jennifer Small

Santa around the world


Krampus is hairy with cloven hooves, usually brown or black, and has horns of a goat adorning his head. His long, pointed tongue lolls out and usually he has fangs. His (somewhat traumatizing) appearance is probably because during the Christmas season, he scares children who have misbehaved.

He doesn’t strike terror into the fear of naughty children alone though, Saint Nicholas is said to accompany Krumpus on his rounds on the night of Dec. 5.

Saint Nicholas rewards the good children with gifts but the bad children are terrorized or punishment.

Père Noël

On Christmas Eve children leave their shoes by the fireplace, they’re usually filled with carrots and treats for Père Noël’s donkey, Gui (French for “Mistletoe”) before they go to bed.

During his visit, Père Noël takes the things left in the shoes and gives the well behaved children presents.


In Italian folklore, Befanais an old woman who delivers gifts to children throughout Italy on Epiphany Eve (Jan. 5), the eve of the Feast of the Epiphany. She will fill their socks with candy and presents if they are good, or a lump of coal or dark candy if they are bad. In some parts of Italy, tpically poorer parts and in particular rural Sicily, a stick will be put in the stocking instead of coal.

Popular tradition tells that if one sees Befana they will get a a thump from her broomstick.

Befana, who is also said to be a great housekeeper and guest, will sweep the floor before she leaves. To some the sweeping meant she was sweeping away of the problems of the year. Families typically leaves a small glass of wine and a plate with a few morsels of food for the Befana.


Part of folklore of the Palatinate region of southwestern Germany along the Rhine, the Saarland, and the Odenwald area of Baden-Württemberg, Belsnickel is a crotchety, fur-clad figure who sometimes wears a mask with a long tongue.

He is said to carry a switch in his hand with which to beat naughty children and also pocketsful of cakes, candies, and nuts for good children.