WTF

20 Creepy Santa Pictures

These vintage pictures of Santa Claus will scare children and adults alike.

 

America has a long tradition of children being horrified to get plopped onto the lap of a fat stranger dressed in a garishly red outfit, his face covered in a white beard. But these vintage photos of Santas past take that horror to the next level.

When you see these Kris Kringles, visions of sugarplums won’t be dancing in your head — you’ll have terrible nightmares instead.
He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself.

That’s how the narrator of “A Visit From St. Nicholas,” better known as “The Night Before Christmas,” describes Santa in Clement Clarke Moore’s famous poem.



But when you see these Kris Kringles, visions of sugarplums won’t be dancing in your head — you’ll have terrible nightmares instead. –Wally



A Very Merry, Kinda Scary Vintage Christmas

13 of the strangest vintage Christmas cards that don’t quite bring good tidings to you and your kin.

I started out thinking I’d collect a bunch of charming vintage Christmas cards for this post. And while I found some cute images of eager children, kind Santas and snow-covered winter wonderlands, they just weren’t doing it for me. They didn’t begin to compare to the creepy excellence of vintage Halloween cards or the Yuletide greetings from that devilish Krampus.

And then I came across an old Christmas card that depicted the cheerful sentiment of a man getting mauled to death by a polar bear.

Given that I’m more likely to be on Santa’s naughty than nice list, I knew I had found my theme: Christmas cards that have a bizarre bent.

Given that I’m more likely to be on Santa’s naughty than nice list, I knew I had found my theme: Christmas cards that have a bizarre bent. As I searched around online, I grew more and more confounded. What the heck does a dead robin have to do with a merry Christmas? What’s up with that frog who stabbed and robbed his compatriot? What is that thing in the pot — and why does the cook have a bird’s head? Why are those oysters so sad? And who gave that little doggie a rifle?!

Here are the 14 weirdest vintage Christmas cards I could find.

Wishing you a weird and wonderful Christmas! –Wally

Caganer: A Crappy Spanish Christmas Tradition Explained

No Catalan Christmas is complete without Caga Tio’s crazy counterpart, the Christmas Shitter.

As hard as it might be to believe, this figurine of a man squatting and taking a poop, known as the Caganer, is actually placed in nativity scenes

On the sick and demented show South Park, which never fails to serve up brilliant zeitgeist zingers, there’s an unlikely Yuletide character: Mr. Hankey, the Christmas Poo. He’s literally a merry little piece of shit. Part of what makes him so funny — besides the fact that he flies out of the toilet and leaves brown schmears everywhere he goes — is how absurd it is to connect what was once the holiest of holidays with, well, fecal matter.

Turns out the Catalans had already been doing just that for a couple of centuries.

The Caganer has his pants pulled down to expose his ample bottom — and there’s a spiral of shit at his feet.

You can find dozens of defecating delights at Barcelona’s Christmas fair, the Fira de Santa Llúcia

Who exactly is the Caganer?

He’s a cheerful little guy dressed in a traditional Catalan outfit: white shirt, red cap and belt, black pants. Innocuous from the front, there’s a surprise around back. The Caganer has his pants pulled down to expose his ample bottom — and there’s a spiral of shit at his feet.

 

How do you pronounce Caganer? 

My friend Albert, who lives in Barcelona, sent voice recordings so I could hear how you properly pronounce Caganer. To me, it sounded like “ka-ga-nay,” but said very quickly. I suggested that pronunciation guide to Albert, and he wasn’t quite sold.

Morale of the story: End the word with an “ay” sound rather than “er” — and you should get an A for effort.

 

RELATED: ¿Como se dice “shit” en español? Learn Spanish swear words here!

 

Holy crap! The defecating figurine is actually placed in the nativity scene.

It sounds sacrilegious to include someone dropping a deuce near Jesus, Mary, Joseph, the Three Wise Men and the rest of the nativity bunch. But that’s exactly what Catalan families do — though the Caganer is placed far away from the manger.

“The Caganer is never in the front of the nativity scene. That would be a lack of respect. He’s always hidden in a corner, under a bridge or behind a tree, and every morning the children play a game, hunting for the Caganer,” Joan Lliteras, a self-proclaimed “Caganer connoisseur,” told the BBC.

 

How the heck did this tradition start?

As strange as it sounds, the Caganer is seen as a symbol of fertility and good fortune.

“There was the legend that if a countryside man did not put a Caganer in the nativity scene, he would have a very bad year collecting vegetables,” Lliteras explained.

“Others say that the irreverent figure is meant to humble establishment figures or that it demonstrates that no one can be prepared for when Jesus will appear,” Smithsonian.com reported.

There’s another theory: Not everyone could give the Son of God expensive gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh like the Magi.

“It was the only thing the little shepherd boy had to give the Baby Jesus,” Nancy Duneuve told the BBC. “So it’s not at all disrespectful — it’s a great gift.”

Manure, after all, makes good fertilizer.

Political, pop culture and sports figures all get the Caganer treatment

Was that the Queen of England I saw taking a dump?

Why, yes, yes, it was. The Caganer tradition has entered the modern era. While you can still find the original Caganer, the Christmas markets of Barcelona and the nearby area are filled with Star Wars characters, political figures (yes, Trump has become popular this year), football stars, the Pope, Spider-Man and SpongeBob SquarePants.

Vendors insist it’s not an insult but rather a great honor to be depicted as a Christmas crapper.

 

Believe it or not, this isn’t the only Scatological Catalan Christmas tradition!

Our friend Albert’s nieces sit atop a giant Caga Tío, a log you feed and beat until it poops out treats

Our friend Albert’s nieces sit atop a giant Caga Tío, a log you feed and beat until it poops out treats

There’s also the Caga Tío, the Pooping Log. This is a piece of wood with a cartoonish face (googly eyes, big smile). It wears a traditional red Catalan cap like the Caganer and is covered with a blanket. Kids feed it their leftovers, beat it with sticks, sing a song — and hope it poops out yummy treats. I guess you could say they literally beat the shit out of it.

 

Visit Caganer.com — and start your own collection. Catalan Christmases truly are the shit. –Wally

 

ANOTHER BIZARRE XMAS TRADITION: Krampus, the Christmas Devil

What Is Krampus, the Anti-Santa?

Everything you wanted to know about Krampus the Christmas Devil but were afraid to ask.

This frightening monster is called Krampus — and he's actually part of Christmas celebrations in Austria and other countries in Central Europe

A demonic goat man with massive fangs, twisted horns and a frighteningly long tongue. It’s a creature that’s almost too horrifying to even be associated with Halloween — and yet, in some parts of Europe, this ghastly beast is actually Santa’s sidekick.

Not surprisingly, Krampus became the subject of a horror movie last year.

Misbehaving kids in the United States should count their blessings. They only get coal in their stockings. Krampus beats bad children with a bundle of birch sticks — and then drags them down to his lair in Hell.

How the heck did this nightmarish demon, known as the “Christmas Devil,” come about?

 

Don't look, but I think there’s a Krampus behind you!

This little girl looks like she doesn’t have anything to worry about. But that bad little boy is being packed off to Hell!

What does Krampus look like?

The stuff of nightmares. Think of a satyr or faun on acid. A fur-covered half-goat, half-man, all-demon monstrosity.

The Los Angeles Times describes him as “a hairy, horned, chain-toting biped that resembles a Wookiee on a bender.”

He shambles along, dragging chains and the shackles he has broken free of. (It begs the question who locked him up in the first place?)

Vintage holiday cards from Austria feature the Christmas Devil, and read, “Greetings from Krampus!”

Like Santa Claus, he, too, has a large sack he carries over his shoulder (sometimes depicted as a large basket). Except Krampus’ isn’t filled with presents — it’s stuffed with kidnapped children.

 

When did Krampus first appear?

“Vague written accounts mentioning pelts and horns date back to the 17th century,” Atlas Obscura reports.

But his devil-like form didn’t really get solidified until holiday postcards trumpeting, “Gruß vom Krampus!” (Greetings from Krampus!) became all the rage in Austria.

“Another factor that likely influenced the character’s satyr-like appearance was the fin de siècle obsession with Pan,” the Greek god of nature, according to Atlas Obscura.

 

What’s he do to naughty children?

Misbehaving kids in the United States should count their blessings. They only get coal in their stockings. Krampus is much more of a disciplinarian: He beats bad children with a bundle of birch sticks — and then drags them down to his lair in Hell, National Geographic reports.

 

What kind of freak gave birth to this monster?

Not surprisingly, Krampus’ mother is said to be Hel, the Norse goddess of the dead. She in turn is the daughter of the mischief-maker Loki. Hel is half-dead, looking like a living, if gloomy, woman — aside from her legs (and, one would assume, her lady bits), which are those of a rotting corpse. Variously, she’s depicted as her living and dead halves literally split down the middle, revealing half a skeletal face and body, usually on her left side.

 

How’d Krampus get his name?

His name derives from the German word krampen, meaning claw.

Kind St. Nicholas became the Santa Claus we know today, while the evil Krampus punishes naughty children

They know if you’ve been bad or good — so be good for goodness’ sake

What sick fucks came up with this creature?

The Germans, apparently. Krampus is seen as the yin to St. Nicholas’ yang. The devilish figure raids towns the night of December 5, known as Krampusnacht, or Krampus Night. The next day is St. Nicholas Day, when German children find one of two items in the shoes or boots they’ve left out on their doorsteps: presents if they’ve been good or a rod if they’ve been bad (to beat them with, presumably).

A man dressed in his horrific finery takes part in a Krampuslauf, or Krampus Run

What other countries have incorporated Krampus into their Yuletide traditions?

Austria, in particular, caught Krampus fever. There, as well as in Hungary, Slovenia and the Czech Republic, men dress up as devils, get wasted and chase people through the streets for a Krampuslauf, or Krampus Run.

Where the wild things are: What do you call a collection of Krampuses?

“For these runners, Krampus is the dark counterpart to the gemütlichkeit Christmas evokes,” Fest300 writes. “Gemütlichkeit is a hard word to translate, but it encompasses both coziness and conviviality, whereas Krampus is the other half of the winter solstice: darkness, cold and snowy fir forests where branches snap and things go bump in the frozen night.”

Apparently not everyone is terrified of Krampus. This little girl feeds her Krampus dolly

Seriously, though, what’s up with a demon being St. Nick’s cohort?

The Alps must have a dark mystery to them. Krampus embodies “the season of autumn and early winter — the twilight, the slowing down and the mystical feeling that foreshadows these traditional events, the tales of mythical creatures, the forests of the mountains where they lurk and the presence of the unknown,” a person who dresses as Krampus told the L.A. Times.

 

As the Christmas carol goes, “You better watch out” indeed! –Wally

5 Strange World Traditions

A temple in Ubud on Bali — just don't go in if you're on your period!

A temple in Ubud on Bali — just don't go in if you're on your period!

The more you travel, the more weird traditions you’ll encounter — and that’s some kind of wonderful.

 

Part of the wonderment of travel is experiencing cultures that are vastly different from your own. It expands your mind; it helps you understand how we’re indelibly shaped by our environments.

It’s easy to fall into the trap of feeling superior, that places that don’t follow our conventions are somehow more barbaric.

“I didn’t fly halfway around the world to not go into any temples just because it’s that time of the month,” she exclaimed.

But that’s what makes world travel so fun. Get out of your comfort zone. See things from another point of view. Travel truly changes you.
Here’s a sampling of some of the strangest customs I’ve experienced on my travels.

 

On Bali, menstruating women cannot enter Hindu temples.

The idea is that women on their periods are somehow “unclean.” But my friend Christina was having none of it.

“I didn’t fly halfway around the world to not go into any temples just because it's that time of the month,” she exclaimed.

“Hey,” I responded, “I won’t tell if you don’t.”

 

In Thailand, there’s no concept of the closet for gays.

As hard as this is to believe, this is what I was told by my friend Deb, who was living in Bangkok at the time.

Apparently being gay isn’t something you have to hide in Thailand. Which I suppose means there’s no repression, and you just tell everyone around you when you first realize you have feelings for the same sex.

Honestly, this one still astounds me, and I’m not sure I fully believe it. I feel like it would make Thailand the only country on Earth where it was totally OK to be gay.

 

In Morocco, men hold hands and kiss hello.

There’s nothing gay about it. But Muslim men are quite physical with each other. It’s not unusual to see two grown men walking arm in arm down the street or even holding hands.

And when they greet each other, they kiss on the cheek. The man who drove us to the Sahara used me to demonstrate the traditional greeting. He kissed me once. Twice. Thrice. Four times! It seemed a bit excessive. I mean, who’s got time for that?

 

In Sevilla, Spain, you toss your napkins right on the floor.

You stop at a tapas bar for some delicious nibblies, and when you’re done, you nonchalantly throw your soiled napkin onto the ground.

“It took me a while to get used to this,” my friend Jo said. “But honestly — they’d rather you do that than leave them on the bar.”

 

In Peru, you pour out booze as an offering to Mother Earth.

The Andean people worship the Earth as Pachamama, and whenever they have an alcoholic drink, they pour a bit out to honor her.

“What about if you’re in someone’s home?” I asked my guide one evening at our campsite on the Inca Trail.

“Yes,” he told me.

“What about if you’re at a restaurant?” I asked.

He nodded again. “Yes.”

“It’s kind of like pouring one for your homies,” I said. But he didn’t understand. –Wally