It has been a long time coming...the return of Enginerdiness. This time, I'll most likely make things more personal at times, not only identifying the items that truly make me geek out. Lately, from podcasts I listen to on the Frogpants network, there has been discussion of different world regions having beliefs or folklore other than (or in addition to) Santa Claus. For the record, I would like to just give a very brief description of a couple that I find interesting.
Krampus has been making his popular appearance for the past couple of years. Krampus folklore centers in the Alpine countries such as Austria and Bavaria. Most consider him the counterpart of Santa Claus. Where Santa rewards the children who behave well, Krampus takes the misbehaving children away in a sack to his lair where he will lash them with birch branches. Finally, payment for all of those kids who have avoided the rod in the "spare the rod, spoil the child" mentality of today!
The Caganer is a relatively new one to me. This is a figure usually shown defecating in a nativity scene and originates around Catalonia or even in Spain. The significance of the Caganer is all speculation in current times, but some believe that by pooping on the ground, the figure is fertilizing the earth which brings more grains to supplement the manger, thereby insuring that the manger will be around the following year. I personally thing it is hilarious to know that some households in Catalan hide the Caganer in the manger scene and let the children try to find it. Either way, quite a different version of holiday folklore than what we are used to.
Whatever your family's traditions are, we should make sure not to alienate our fellow people and help embrace their traditions as our own. Personally, I think for this Christmas, I will perform Krampus's duties for any of the wee little ones in my family who misbehave this holiday season, and if everyone is on their best behavior, perhaps I will be a real life Caganer and see who can find me pooping around the house!