The Unique Dutch Gift-Givers

The Unique Dutch Gift-Givers In an effort to avoid the post-Reformation bans on St. Nicholas’ Day, the Netherlands produced a number of unique gift-givers, including Sinterklaas (also known as Sint Nikolaas or Sint-Niklaas) and Zwarte Piet (“Black Peter”)....

Santa in business

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News and Media

A combination of videotaped interviews, articles written by Tom Jerman for such institutions as the American Antiquarian Society, podcasts, and news articles posted on the internet.

Here Comes Sinterklaas

On November 14, 2020, the Dutch gift-giver Sinterklaas will arrive by steamboat in the imaginary town of Zwalk, Netherlands

The Other Furry Gift-Givers: Pelzmartin and Pelzmärtle

Most American Christmas fans are probably familiar with Belsnickel, the rough-hewn gift-giver of nineteenth-century Pennsylvania, and a reasonable portion of us probably know that Belsnickle is essentially a misspelling–or, one could say, an alternative spelling–of Pelznickel,

What Halloween and Christmas Have in Common

Le Befana, Italy’s Christmas Witch, supposedly spurned a request from the three Magi to visit the newborn Christ child and, upon realizing her mistake, spent the next two thousand twenty years trying to make up for it by delivering gifts to the children of the world.

Why Early Humans Celebrated the Winter Solstice

Those who study the history of Christmas, which includes historians, archeologists, anthropologists, and folklorists, agree that the genesis of the modern holiday was celebrations of the Winter Solstice that occurred centuries, or millennia, before the birth of Christ.

Saturnalia: The Pagan Christmas

The Roman God Saturn presided over Saturnalia, the first of three midwinter festivals—a harvest celebration, the birth of the sun god, and a new year’s observance—that collectively formed the Roman celebration of midwinter.

The Catalonian Tradition of Tió de Nadal

In the Catalonian region of northeastern Spain, residents have what is probably the strangest Christmas tradition in the world, the Tió de Nadal (“Christmas log”) or Caga Tió.  Tió de Nadal is a log about two feet long and six inches wide, with stick legs, a painted face, and a red hat,