Santa's Rivals around the World ...

For most reading this article, the symbol of Christmas is Santa Claus. But for many people around the world, the jolly fat man in a red suit is behind a whole host of other characters in significance and meaning. Come with me on a journey to meet some very different Christmas characters.

1. Iceland Celebrates Christmas with Cats, Ogres and Yule Lads

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Just like Britain and America have Santa Claus, elves and a bevy of reindeer to deliver gifts at Christmas, Iceland's children can look forward to a whole host of festive creatures: from Gryla, a horrible ogress and her 13 sons, the Yule Lads who descend from the mountains at Christmas, to an enormous black cat that prowls the country on Christmas Eve in search of anyone who hasn't received a new stitch of clothing. It will eat the poor sap, no matter what age! Naughty children falling into the claws of Gryla don't fare much better either, although they get to escape if they repent their naughty deeds. Everybody else gets boiled in Gryla's cauldron, while her young troll’s sons look for ways to cause mischief among humans.

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