For some folks, the holidays means getting drunk and running around town with a skeleton horse head on a stick. For others, it means presenting your new clothes to a black cat in hopes that it knows you were good this year. Here are some different holiday traditions from around the world! Most of them involve death.
Krampus - Slovenia, Austria, Croatia, Northern Italy
Where St. Nick brings presents to good children, Krampus steals naughty children. Krampus presents as a half-man, half-goat with chains that rattle and clank as he stalks family homes. He whips the bad children and steals the horrible ones back to his lair. Folks will go out on the night of December 5 to party in scary Krampus costumes.
Frau Perchta - Austria and Bavaria
Frau Pertcha is a witch who roams around the districts in Austria and Bavaria. She's kind of like a witchy Santa Claus, where she sees the good and the bad children. Instead of giving the bad kids coal, she will slit their bellies, kill them, and stuff their corpses with straw. It's a bit dark, isn't it?
Mari Lwyd - Wales
Men of Wales will drag around puppets of skeleton horses to people's houses just to wish them a happy new year. Naturally, there's a lot of drinking, dancing, and singing involved, but that doesn't mean a sea of bone horses decorated with ribbons and fabric any less scary!
Gryla and the Yule Cat - Iceland
Gryla is a giant ogre who hides out in the large forests of Iceland. She walks into town on Christmas day to steal naughty children to bring them back to her home. She has many servants, including the Yule Cat who lurks around town to see if the kids had been naughty or nice. Children will leave their clothes out near their windowsill so the Yule Cat can see if they got new clothes or not. No new clothes and Gryla will come to get them.