Most American elementary school kids will tell you about who they think Santa is friends with. Mrs. Claus
, Rudolph, and the elves come to mind, as well as many of the Rankin-Bass characters
that have become cultural institutions. However, this is only the tip of the iceberg. Make space on your mantle for Zwarte Piet
In the Netherlands, Santa is also known to ride with Black Pete
(or Zwarte Piet), a helper who is apparently white-skinned, but has a black face because of soot from going up and down chimneys to deliver gifts. He has a feast in his honor on December 5th, Saint Nicholas Eve for the Dutch. Of course, there is controversy because origin in colonialist times, his blackface, often thick lips, and afro hairstyle
can easily be seen as racist
. He is known to be mischievous but not necessarily mean spirited, although some tellings say that he's been known to whip naughty kids with a birch branch.
Granted, that behavior may be infringing on the Austrian Krampus's
territory. Recently featured on The Colbert Report
, Krampus is the stick to Santa's carrot. While Santa brings toys, the Krampus will take away gifts from naughty children, and whip them with rusty chains and birch branches. With his downright demonic appearance
, it's a wonder Santa lets this creature ride along in the sleigh. And be careful kids, if you don't fall asleep
on Christmas Eve, the Krampus
will take you to Hell.
Remarkably, neither of them were popularized by Coca Cola