Christmas Characters from Around the World

While you may only know Santa Claus, there are several other Christmas characters besides the Elf of the Shelf adn Frosty the Snowman to keep children in line.


    Photo Credit: Guilio Magnifico  Flickr


    Krampus is a beast-like creature from the folklore of Alpine countries thought to punish children during the Yule season who had misbehaved, in contrast with Saint Nicholas, who rewards well-behaved ones with gifts. Krampus is said to capture particularly naughty children in his sack and carry them away to his lair.

    Photo Credit: Josep Roswell Flickr

    Tió de Nadal or Christmas Log/

    On December 8th, Catalan kids give the tió or log a little bit to eat and cover him with a blanket each night. On Christmas Eve the kids put the log into the fireplace or beat it with sticks so it will defecate presents. The kids leave the room while the log poops out the presents like candies, nuts and dried figs.

    Photo Credit: rahego. Flickr


    Olentzero is depicted as a lovable character, widely attributed to being overweight, having a huge appetite and thirst. He is depicted as a Basque peasant wearing a Basque beret, a farmer's attire with traditional abarketa shoes and smoking a pipe. He brings children gifts, but parents used to tell children if they didn't go to be he would throw a sickle down the chimney and cut their throats.

    Photo Credit: Ele G. Flickr

    La Befana

    La Befana is an old woman wearing a shaw and carrying a broom in Italy who visits children on the eve of the Feast of the Epiphany (Jan. 5th) and fills their socks with candy for good kids and coal for the bad ones.

    She has her broom and will sweep the floors to get everything clean for the new year.

    Photo Credit: and stones  Flickr

    Ded Moroz (Father Frost)

    Father Frost is known in Slavic cultures as a man much like Santa Claus. However, Ded Moroz carries around a magical staff and will visit people in person on New Year's Eve or New Year's Day. No sneaking down chimneys for this guy!

    Photo Credit: washintonydc  Flickr


    Gryla is and Icelandic Giant who is said to have a sharp sense of hearing. She has the ability to detect children who are misbehaving year-round. During Christmas time, she comes from her home in the mountains to search nearby towns for naughty kids to eat! meal. Her favorite dish is a stew of naughty kids and she had an insatiable appetite.

    Photo Credit: Hans Pama  Flickr

    Zwarte Piet or "Black Pete"

    The Zwarte Piet character is part of the annual feast of St. Nicholas, usually celebrated on the evening of 5 December in the Netherlands and on 6 December in Belgium, when sweets and presents are distributed to children. Since the 1950's, he is known as a scamp who will put naughty children in a bag and take them back to Spain.

    Photo Credit: Peptobismolman1  Wikipedia


    Belsnickel is a man wearing fur which covers his entire body, and he sometimes wears a mask with a long tongue.

    He comes alone to the home of children before Saint Nicholas and checks on the behavior of the children.

    He raps on the door or window with a stick and children would have to sing a song or answer a question. If the children jumped too quick for the treats, they may end up getting struck with Belsnickel's switch.

    Photo Credit:  Wikipedia

    La Père Fouettard (The Whipping Father)

    He travels with St. Nicholas in his rounds during St. Nicholas' Day (6 December) giving lumps of coal and/or floggings to the naughty children while St. Nick gives gifts to the well behaved.

    His backstory says he murdered three children and is now working with Santa as punishment for his crimes.