12.26.2007

After the fact.

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas, and to get back into my routine I discovered some interesting cultural differences between Slovenian and Canadian Christmas traditions. Of course, this little blurb is more for our (few) Canadian readers, but our Slovenian readers might find this interesting as well.

Okay, I focused more on mythological figures rather than actual cultural practices, but I did notice one thing: I found that Slovenians tend to celebrate more on Christmas Eve than on Christmas Day. Some felt it was "too late" to wish us Merry Christmas on the actual day.

St. Nicholas, or Miklavž, is accompanied by Krampus, a devilish character brandishing a length of chain. Krampus is disciplinary in nature, punishing children who misbehave during the year. He is Miklavž's foil - one rewards, and the other . . . well, not so much. In North America, kids get coal in their stocking rather than receive a lashing from a demonic apparition. Personally, I'm partial to Krampus. Mixing terror and treats is more interesting than saccharine sentimentalism.

Dedek Mraz
, otherwise known as Grandpa Frost, is another figure who appears during the holidays. Dedek Mraz has some significant differences from St. Nicholas: he's thinner, wears a grey coat and dormouse cap, and delivers presents on New Year's Eve.

There you have it.

6 comments:

Iva said...

can i correct you a bit? :D it's not dedek mraz, but miklavž that is accompanied by the devil. :P but yeah, we celebrate everything on the eve before the actual holiday - the same goes with national holidays ... weird country, eh? :D

Robin said...

What I find interesting is that you have more Slovenian readers than Canadian ones. Perhaps "A Child's Christmas in Slovenia" won't have the broad appeal I had imagined...

Jay said...

Thanks for the correction, Iva. I'll edit my post ASAP.

Robin: I don't know, my friend. Maybe Canadians dislike me? ;)

jess said...

as one of your "(few)" canadian readers, i just want to say that coal in the stocking is completely terrifying. my bro got some one year from my uncle (ages 13 - 15 were a wee bit rough for my bro) and i was horrified / terrified when he pulled out the lump of coal.

sacharine sentimentalism, it ain't!
xoxo and happy hoho
jess

Jay said...

Really? Terrified of coal? That's strange. I suppose if someone was having a rough go at that age, chunks of carbon could scare the Yule out of anybody.

Having grown up on a steady diet of comic books and horror movies, a piece of coal in my stocking wouldn't (and didn't) bother me. It boils down to individual experiences and personality, which don't necessarily represent all experiences and personalities.

But then, what the hell do I know? I mixed up St. Nicholas and Grandpa Frost earlier.

I personally find most public displays of holiday cheer to be overly saccharine. Including demons and threats of corporeal punishment into the Christmas tradition is refreshing.

Robin said...

On saccharine AND coal: the Italians, at least, make a candy coal with sugar and black food colouring. I got some one year from Grace, from Ottavio I think. Like sweet pummice. (carbone de zucchero, on the Epiphany, 6 January)