The Santa known by Americans for his rosy cheeks and love of children is one of many characters connected with Christmas stories around the world.
In countries like Hungary and Italy, holiday beasts and witches display devilish tactics in dealing with bad children.
Here's a look at four holiday figures: two naughty, two nice.
Countries: Austria, Germany, France, Slovenia, Italy, Croatia and Hungary.
Description: Krampus, which comes from the German word claw, is a "yeti-like creature" who punishes bad children with a whip and places them in a basket on his back, according to the Associated Press. He is depicted with chains as well as a frightening mask that has horns, fangs and a long tongue.
Origins: The story of Krampus was first told in pagan times, the AP reports. Legend has it that Saint Nicholas would drive Krampus away from children only if they promised to behave. Krampus represents evil, and Saint Nicholas represents good.
Description: La Befana, sometimes referred to as the Italian Christmas witch, has red eyes, thick lips and an eerie expression, according to a description from The New York Times. She is usually covered with soot from going up and down chimneys, and, of course, flies on a broom.
Origins: The story of La Befana has been told in Italy since the 16th century, according to the Times. La Befana is nice to well-behaved children but can be a nightmare to naughty ones. She gives good children toys, while bad ones receive dust and ashes.
Description: Russian Santa Claus Ded Moroz is thin and wears an ankle-length robe, and holds a scepter. There are no sleighs or reindeer accompanying this Santa. Instead, he rides in a troika pulled by three horses, according to the Times.
Origins: Ded Moroz delivers presents to good boys and girls door-to-door. His granddaughter, pigtailed fairy Snegurochka, also known as the Snow Maiden, helps him deliver the presents to the children and make sure that evil witch Baba Yaga does not steal them, the Times reported.
Description: Jolasveinar include 13 Santas, the Times reports. In modern times, they are known for their generosity and deciphering between good and evil.
Origins: Known in English as Yule Lads, these elves were known for their mischievous actions, like stealing from farmers, according to the Times. Now, however, tradition says they leave gifts for good kids and potatoes in the shoes of naughty ones.
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