Halloween was supposed to be the scary holiday. Here are four weird things about Christmas everyone gladly ignores to make it less terrifying.
The way the Anglophone world tells it, Santa might give naughty children coal instead of presents, but that's about as bad as it gets. Except if you live in the Alpine countries, where Santa apparently outsources that line of work to a demonic goat called Krampus, who literally enslaves children on the naughty list. Better watch out indeed.
Terrifying as Krampus may be, he's got nothing on 'Black Pete': Santa's jovial servant played each year by Dutch men in blackface. Little more than a modern-day Al Jolson routine, he's bizarrely popular in Holland, where the spirit of Christmas apparently requires a nation-wide minstrel show.
Lord of Misrule
Back in the day, an English peasant would be selected at random to assume the title of Lord of Misrule. Tasked with leading the Christmas festivities, one of the perks of the job was that they could drink shite loads, perform pranks and command anyone to do anything they like. All fun and games, but more than a few took it too far – and lost their heads as a result. That must have been some Boxing Day hangover.
Saint Nick was a slender, normally-abled person, but for some reason the Santa we all know and love is a morbidly obese guy with the power of flight. Why the image makeover? It's all because Washington Irving – author of Sleepy Hollow – erroneously referred to the old man as 'portly' in a story published in 1809, and then ten years later recounted a dream he'd had about Santa flying in a weightless wagon. The ideas stuck, and legal teams for both parties have presumably been preparing cases against each other ever since.