For children of all ages, Christmas conjures up enchanting visions of snowflakes, sleigh rides and sugar plums. But while the holidays may be universally thought of as the most wonderful time of the year, not all international yuletide customs are merry and bright.
In Austria as well as elsewhere in central Europe, St. Nicholas is accompanied by Krampus, a truly sinister, demon-like creature who bears a whip and a sack for misbehaved children. In the Czech Republic, the traditional Christmas Eve meal is carp, but buying one means bearing witness to a gruesome ritual of Wes Craven-like proportions, while in the Catalonia region of Spain, you might opt to steer clear of a legendary figure known as El Caganer, who's up to some foul-smelling business -- literally -- in the nativity scene.
Take a look at some of the most spirited Christmas traditions around the world here: