Who brings gifts during the winter holidays, and what those are, depends on where you live
In Liberia, Old Man Bayka, the county's "devil," wanders the streets begging for presents
In Spain, some parents gift their children hollow logs to be stuffed with treats
Tiny tots, with their eyes all aglow, are now relishing – or eagerly awaiting – holiday celebrations around the world.
In places like the United States, where 90% of people celebrate Christmas, children will look for presents from Santa Claus under the tree and treats in their stockings.
Yet in other regions of the world, who brings gifts and what those gifts are can vary, depending on where families live and which holiday they are celebrating.
Here is just a sampling of the whimsical ways some parents and children celebrate the season across cultures.
La Befana delivers candy or coal
In Italy, children receive gifts from Babbo Natale, or Santa Claus, but there’s also a witchlike woman who delivers gifts to the nice and coal to the naughty during the holidays.
“Befana is the female Italian equivalent of Santa Claus,” said Anne Rashford, director of special exhibitions and events at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, who curated the museum’s Christmas Around the World exhibit currently on display.
Rashford described La Befana as an elderly woman who flies on a broomstick across Italy, giving gifts to children on Epiphany Day, a Christian holiday celebrating the first manifestation of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles.
The holiday, on January 6, is also known as Three Kings Day or the Feast of the Epiphany.
Various versions of the legend of La Befana describe her as a little old woman, a kindly witch or a fairy queen. In some tales, legend has it that La Befana declined an invitation to join the wise men on their journey to Bethlehem to see baby Jesus, and so to this day, she takes flight every Epiphany Eve to search for the holy child on her own, Rashford said.
Yet while children follow the tale of La Befana in Italy, in some parts of Africa, they wait for Old Man Bayka.
Old Man Bayka just wants presents
In Liberia, Old Man Bayka, or the county’s “devil,” wanders the streets begging for presents on Christmas Day, according to the ONE campaign, a world advocacy organization.