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La Befana - Italian folklore about an old woman who flies on a broom and comes down the chimney to deliver presents to good children on the night of Jan 5th (Epiphany Eve).

The Père Fouettard (French for The whipping Father) is a character who accompanies St. Nicholas in his rounds during St. Nicholas' Day (6 December) dispensing lumps of coal and/or floggings to the naughty children while St. Nick gives gifts to the well behaved.

The Belsnickel shows up at houses 1-2 weeks before christmas, he is typically very ragged and mean looking. He wears torn, tattered and dirty clothes and he carries a switch in his hand. He is the opposite of Santa Clause, as he threatens to beat the children with his switch, for all the bad things they have done. Ultimately, the children escape unharmed but they are scared into being good so that Santa will bring them presents on Christmas.

Scandinavian Madonna & Child

thedeerandtheoak: The Farmer Boy , Photo taken in Telemark, Norway