1. In Romania’s Trotus Valley, men, women, and children clad in bearskins dance at people’s homes to chase away the year’s bad spirits.
A troupe of men clad in bearskins danced through #Comanesti, Romania, stopping at homes where they had been invited to perform. In Romania’s Trotus Valley, this is a holiday tradition: Men, women and children wearing bearskins descend on homes to chase away the year’s bad spirits. The photographer @dianazeynebalhindawi, who spent her early childhood in Romania, remembered this scene fondly. Last year, she returned to photograph it. This #nytweekender, we’ll be sharing @dianazeynebalhindawi’s photos of Romania’s dancing bears, which were featured on the @nytimes #lensblog. Tap the link in our profile to see more photos. #🐻🐻🐻
2. In Austria, Germany, Hungary, Slovenia, and the Czech Republic, Santa has a nasty counterpart — Krampus. He’s a warning to naughty children to shape up…or get eaten…
3. In South Wales, Mari Lwyd — a horse’s skull attached to a pole that peeks out from ribbons and a white sheet — goes from door-to-door bringing people good luck.
2. 'Mari Lwyd' is a Welsh folk Christmas tradition of dressing up as a 'Grey Mare', usually using a scary cow skull on a pole, with a sheet and wandering around your local area. The 'horse' would approach a house and try to enter using a song, it could be sent away; also through song, though if not, it could then enter for feeding and drink. #marilwyd #alternativeadventcalendar #welshtradition #greymare
4. In Guatemala, effigies of Satan are burned atop bonfires for Quema del Diablo, symbolizing the light of the Virgin Mary and her victory over the demon.
5. In Switzerland, hundred of men bearing cowbells, whips, and bishop’s hat lanterns tear after Santa for Klausjagen (Chasing the Claus) in Küssnacht.
6. In Geneva, L’Escalade involves smashing marzipan-filled chocolate cauldrons, gorging on the broken pieces, and celebrating the defeat of Savoy troops in Switzerland in 1602 with a massive Cathedral Square bonfire.
7. In Mexico, Noche de Rabanos sees amazing figures carved from giant radishes take over Oaxaca City’s Zocalo.
8. In San Fernando, the so-called “Christmas Capital of the Philippines,” the Giant Lantern Festival sees 20ft lanterns being paraded through the streets.
9. In Lyon, France, locals express gratitude to the Virgin Mary by placing candles along the outsides of the the windows…and for a few days in December there are buildings that look like this:
10. On Christmas morning in Caracas, Venezuela, churchgoers rollerskate to Mass. Roads are even cleared so the worshippers can have safe passage.
11. In Ireland, it’s traditional to swim in the sea on Christmas morning. At some point, Santa costumes were added to the tradition…
Today's back page picture is 'A wave of Christmas cheer' by Michael MacSweeney. Some of the participants in the Santa Swim in aid of the Hopr Foundation at Garretstown Beach, Co Cork, yesterday. #christmas #swim #waves #sea #beach #cheer #participants #santaswim #hopefoundation #charity #garretstown #garretstownbeach #cork #ireland #ie #irishexaminer