European Christmas symbols 

In several European countries, identifying the "naughty" kids at Christmastime is not Santa's job but is left to unsavory legendary icons who have endured for centuries (according to a December series of articles in Germany's Der Spiegel). In Italy, determinations are made by the extremely ugly witch La Befana, who has the ability to fly her broomstick through keyholes into bad kids' houses. In Austria, Krampus pays the naughty ones visits as a 7-foot-tall horned devil with a long tongue and a goat's head. And in the Netherlands, Sinterklaas' helper is Zwarte Piet ("Black Pete"), who, unlike Sinter, gets sooty when climbing down chimneys delivering twigs to the shoes of misbehavers. (However, the Netherlands pair has a big advantage over the North Pole-dwelling Santa, in that they reside in sunny Spain and arrive at Christmastime by steamship.)

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