In the Netherlands, Sinter Klaas - who lives in Spain - sets sail on the 6th of December, travelling with six to eight black men, and his trusted horse. If children are good, he leaves them with many gifts. Bad children however, are stuffed into pillow-cases and kidnapped, never to be heard from again. Now that is what I call incentive to be good. After all, you could still burn coal for bodily warmth. (Some versions of the story place the condition for gift-giving on whether hay is left for Sinter Klaas' horse.)*
In Iceland, thirteen yule lads - Stiff-Legs, Gully Gawk, Shorty, Ladle Licker, Pot Scraper, Bowl Licker, Door Slammer, Skyr Gobbler, Sausage Snatcher, Window Peeper, Sniffer, Meat Hook or Candle Beggar - take their turn scaring children, as well as leaving gifts for the good ones. They steal candles, eat sausage,scrape pots, and slams doors, terrifying the children nestled in their beds. But, all this is worth it to wake up to the presents the yule lad has left in their little shoes (though in older legends they were vicious trolls without much of a good side).
Probably disturbed by other portraits of Santa (one who will kidnap children, steal items, or slam doors), Norway replaces Santa with two gnomes (it should be noted that this theory is wildly anachronistic). This removes Santa's good/evil split personality so this jolly figure isn't so terrifying. Nisse is a a gnome who guards all the farm animals, but will play mean tricks on children if they don't leave him porridge on Christmas Eve. Though in older legends, Julebukk was something of a devil figure, in modern times he was re-cast as a noble, goat-like creature who shows up on Christmas Eve to give gifts to all the good girls and boys.**
Babouscka is a sad tale of a woman who missed the birth of the Christ-child due to frightful weather. She now wanders around, searching for the child in every home. On Christmas Eve, she travels through Poland, shining a light on the children's faces. "Where does he lie?" she whispers. And the children reply, "Farther on, Babouscka, farther on." And she departs, leaving a gift for each little child.
There is a child in the coffee shop who keeps shouting. And though normally this would annoy me greatly, she is shouting some funny smack. She just shouted, "shake your booty, shake your butt, shake you booty, booty, booty."
1 point to Marcus for his correct answer in the last "stupid/offensive things Christian leaders have said" quiz. Pat Robertson was the culprit.
For this week's quiz, who said:
“Grown men should not be having sex with prostitutes unless they are married to them.”Was it:
a) James Dobson
b) Jerry Falwell
c) Pat Robertson
d) Rick Warren
*There is a hilarious version of this in David Sedaris' "Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim."
**Most of this was lifted from an interview I heard on NPR with the Norwegian vocal group, Trio Mediæval.