The origin of Christmas has several perspectives ranging from the religious view to the historical and secular viewpoint. The religious perspectives express the birth of Jesus; the historical view explains how Christmas overcame the Pagan holiday while the secular view integrated special characters like Santa Claus, Rudolph the red nose reindeer, elf, and Frosty the Snowman. Well, in all of these, Christmas still brings a feeling of excitement and joy of celebration regardless of their location. So in the spirit of the Christmas holiday, here are 5 top holiday folklore tales you should know:
Krampus, the Anti-Santa Claus
Krampus tale originated in the 1600s and displayed Krampus as Santa Claus’s partner whose specific job was to punish children who had been naughty. There are no exact stories on why Krampus got into the picture, but Santa Claus is considered to work with good kids. Hence Krampus and the other companions were to handle the naughty kids by going to their houses, putting them into a sack, and taking them to the other underworld. Perhaps he is even lurking in the shadows at white elephant gift exchanges!
Pancha Ganapati, the Hindu Version of Christmas Alternative
Pancha Ganapati was formulated in 1985 as a Hindu alternative to the Christmas celebration. The Pancha Ganapati festival usually starts on Dec 21st and runs for five days in which each day is specifically dedicated to the Ganesha god. Ganesha is considered a god who eliminates negative barriers and makes life easier. Some tales perceive Ganesha as the son of god Shiva, while others assume he’s Malini (the goddess with elephant head) son.
Olentzero, the Basque Santa Claus
The story of Olentzero the Basque Santa Claus usually varies. The most popular tale perceived Olentzero as one of the Jentillak people who were giants by nature. One day, an old man saw a cloud appear in the sky and interpreted it that Jesus would soon be born; hence he asked the giants to be thrown off a mountain. The giants agreed to jump except Olentzero, who survived, became a Christian and a happy giver of presents to children.
Chana and Her Seven Sons
The Jews in Yemen dedicate the 7th night of Hannukah to celebrate women. The story behind this ritual relates to Chana and her seven sons, who refused to give up their faith. Her sons were martyred one after the other, and she was still dedicated to her faith. When she died, she was celebrated for her remarkable courage.
Jólakötturinn, the Giant Fearsome Yule Cat
This tale centers around a giant feline known as Jólakötturinn. During Christmas Eve, Jólakötturinn is seen roaming the snowy parts of the country and devouring anyone who didn’t wear new clothes during the holiday. The exact origin of the story isn’t known, but the story has encouraged giving to loved ones and less privileged ones during the Christmas season.
Folklore tales are as old as time, but they still influence the present day. Some tell them as means of entertainment and others to teach lessons. Regardless, folklores tales are a part of us so let’s embrace them.