Families across the globe have all sorts of traditions that they uphold and cherish every time the holiday season approaches. Some put up an evergreen tree in their living room and adorn it with sentimental ornaments. Others bake Yule logs with Bing Crosby serenading in the background. We at The Foot & Ankle Center enjoy both the holidays and all things podiatry, so when the two combine, it’s even better. See how people throughout the world celebrate the holidays with their stockings, shoes, and feet!
You’ve probably made a list for Santa prior to Christmas, right? Well, if you were in Ecuador, you would write a list and place it safely into your shoes. After you leave your shoes out and head to bed, Papa Noel takes your list and replaces it with new shoes and presents. Not a bad deal at all, we say!
Children in France eagerly await Père Noël by neatly placing their shoes in front of the fireplace the night before Christmas. As they dream of sugar plums dancing in their heads, the man himself is said to fill their shoes with candy and toys!
The footwear of choice that eager children leave out for treats is boots, which they rest on the window waiting for Mekulash, the Hungarian Santa. Good, well-behaved children are rewarded with boots filled with chocolate, nuts, and fruit. On the other hand, sticks or switches are placed in the boots of misbehaving children. It isn’t unheard of for children in Hungary to receive both sweets and a switch, oddly enough!
Much like the Hungarian children, boys and girls in Iceland will leave their shoes on the windowsill during the Christmas season. The difference is that Jolasveinar, a troop of 13 elves, comes to visit one at a time over the course of 13 days. These elves leave all sorts of goodies for good children. Meanwhile, bad children will find their shoes filled with potatoes.
In Italy, Santa rides a broom. Also, Santa is actually a witchy old woman named La Befana. Children throughout Italy set out their shoes and go to bed filled with anticipation for La Befana’s arrival. It is said that she brings toys, fruit, and candy to well-behaved children. For those who like to be disobedient, La Befana fills their shoes with coal!
Children in the Netherlands excitedly prepare for the arrival of St. Nicholas by filling their wooden shoes with hay and carrots for his horse. The next morning, they can expect their shoes to be filled with toys and candy for their kind offerings.
Like children throughout the world, Spanish kids will leave their shoes out hoping to receive gifts and treats. However, they set them out beside the door, fireplace, or balcony on January 6, which is the Epiphany or Three Kings Day. These shoes are filled with hay for the Wise Men’s camels; in return for the kind gesture, those shoes are filled with candy and toys!
Going to church to celebrate the holiday? Be sure to blend in with everyone else and don your roller skates! Skating to church is a holiday tradition in Venezuela, so much so that the streets are closed off, making skating to church easy and extra enjoyable.
Much like how we do in the United States, families in the UK hang up stockings on their mantles (or from their beds!) for Old Saint Nick. Why? Because they want to try catching the coins that Father Christmas drops through the chimney. Often, residents will wake up the next day to stockings filled with oranges or tangerines, which symbolize coins or bags of gold.
We in the U.S. have a few foot-related holiday traditions as well. Of course, families everywhere hang stockings and set out an offering of milk and cookies so Santa can leave good children plenty of presents. But did you know that many others also celebrate St. Nicholas Day on December 6? Like many other countries, children leave out their shoes by the fireplace or window so good ol’ Saint Nick may leave a few goodies for the shoes’ owners.
How will you celebrate the holiday season? Tell us in the comments below!