Not every country believes in Santa Claus, see who delivers presents in other places around the world.
Santa Claus seems to be everywhere this time of year. Stores put him in their windows, people put him on their front lawns and on their rooftops, but it turns out that not every country believes that Santa is responsible for bringing presents. Here are a few of the other traditions people follow around the world.
Japan: There are not many Christians in Japan, per capita, so it is a little odd that the country would have a strong Christmas tradition. However, they do. KFC began an ad campaign back in ’74 that pushed people to eat fried chicken on Christmas Eve, and the tradition caught on. In one of those marketing campaigns that company’s dream of, KFC featured a Japanese family chowing into their chicken. The tradition has slowly become so popular that Christmas Eve sales night are typically roughly equivalent to the rest of the year. Itadakimasu! (Let’s eat)
Iceland: Gryla and her Yule Lads take the place of Santa Claus in Iceland. Gryla is a hideous troll that lives in the mountains, with her 13 sons that are known as the Yule Lads. Every night for the days leading up to Christmas the kids in Iceland leave a shoe on the windowsill, and if they have been good that year when they wake up their shoe will be filled with candy or little toys. If they have been naughty there is a chance that Gryla will steal them away to the mountains and boil them in her cauldron, or if she is feeling lazy she might just leave a potato in the shoe. Gryla also has an enormous black cat. The cat is said to eat any Icelander who does not receive a new piece of clothing for Christmas. I’m still looking to see if this was a GAP advertising campaign, but so far it looks like it originates from their folklore.
Italy: In Italy the Christmas story features a unique caveat. Instead of simply following the star to find their way to baby Jesus, the three wise men stop and ask an old Italian woman for directions. However, they ask her in the middle of cleaning, so she tells them she doesn’t have the time to help them find their way. She is subsequently forced to ride a broom stick for eternity, delivering presents to good children and ash to naughty ones. This is why it always pays to give directions, even if you have no idea how to get there.
Ukraine: In the Ukraine people decorate trees much like they do in the USA, but they include on element that we would use, spider-webs. They have an old folk-lore about a poor family who could not afford to buy ornaments for their Christmas tree. They went to bed on Christmas Eve, sad that there was no way for decorate their tree, however in the middle of the night a few spiders come along and cover the tree in beautiful gold and silver webbing. When morning breaks, and the tree is revealed, the whole town comes together to see it.
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