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Every year on Christmas Eve the city of Remedios in Cuba becomes the site of Parrandas, a religious carnival that began 200 years ago when a priest sent altar boys into the street banging on pots and pans to keep people awake for midnight mass.
Krampus and Perchta
In most places when children are bad they get coal. Not in the Alpine countries. Here, St. Nick is accompanied by two demonic figures who certainly look the part. Krampus, children are told, will put them in a sack and drag them of to hell if they have been bad. But that’s only if you’re lucky. It’s a bad day when Perchta gets her hands on the naughty children. She allegedly will rip open their abdomen, pull out their guts, and stuff them with straw. Sweet dreams!
Every year in Italy during the festival of Epiphany an old witch known as “La Befana” walks through the village streets giving gifts to children.
Skating and Toe Tags
If you ever happen to be in Caracas, Venezuela early on Christmas morning you will find the streets closed to traffic as hundreds of people roller skate to mass. Sometimes kids will even tie a piece of rope to one of their toes and let it dangle out the window as they go to sleep the night before. On their way to church the next morning, skaters will tug at any rope they see hanging down from a window and the children will wake up to watch the spectacle.
In acknowledgement of the Christmas Holidays, Bavarian Highlanders fire handheld mortars into the air every year while wearing their traditional dress.