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The Christmas Stories You May Have Never Heard

As Christmas approaches, everyone’s buzzing about the same old tales. But no one would get tired of something new! There are some hidden gems that offer a fresh twist to the holiday spirit, spicing up our festive season. So, grab your hot cocoa, and let’s explore some Christmas stories that probably flew under your radar!

Feature Christmas Stories

Santa Kurō Story in Japan

Illustration of Santa Kurō from the Japanese book "さんたくろう"
Illustration of Santa Kurō from the Japanese book "さんたくろう"

In the serene snowscape of Nagano Prefecture, the Hayashi family, a rare Christian unit in predominantly Shinto and Buddhist Japan, found their quiet winter evening disrupted. Their loyal dog, the frantic Buchi, barged in and dropped a snow-covered hat at the Hayashi son’s feet. Sensing a call for help, the wise father and his son ventured into the biting cold, led by Buchi’s keen senses. They discovered a traveler unconscious and nearly buried in the snow. With compassion and urgency, they carried the stranger back to their warm house.

At home, the mother piled straw onto the fire, and the father and their son worked to revive the freezing man. The stranger, Iguchi Gohei, a 50-year-old man from a distant village, had his life saved. Despite his initial apprehension about the family’s Christian faith, he stayed with them to recover for about three days.

After this little accident, life resumed its pace with the son returning to school, his mother tending to silkworms, and his father working the fields. However, the family’s fortune took a harsh turn. The father fell gravely ill. Through spring, summer, and autumn, he battled the mysterious sickness. Doctors didn’t recognize the cause of this sickness and could not help. As winter approached again, the father miraculously recovered by himself.

Yet, their relief was marred by worry because the father’s illness had left their fields untended. They would suffer a bleak winter without food or Christmas cheer for their son.

On Christmas Eve, Gohei, the man they had saved, stood at their door with a troop of 45 men. Each one man bore gifts – a token of gratitude for the family’s life-saving act. When the son woke up on Christmas morning, he found an array of presents around him. Among the gifts, there was a note saying,

“I am truly impressed by how well you obeyed God’s words, helped your family, and saved the stranger’s life. These are the gifts I shall give you.

The old man of the north,

Santa Kurō”

Story Resource: さんたくろう

Saint Nicholas & Evil Butcher

Illustration of Saint Nicolas from the French book "Les Grandes Heures d'Anne de Bretagne"
Illustration of Saint Nicolas from the French book "Les Grandes Heures d'Anne de Bretagne"

Known as the precursor to Santa Claus, Saint Nicholas was a Christian bishop full of kindness and generosity. The legend about him saving three children from an evil butcher is widespread in France.

The story goes like this: in a quaint French village, long ago, three children gleaned in the fields and found the evening come. Trying to seek shelter, they knocked on a butcher’s door and innocently asked, “Butcher, would you give us a place to sleep?” With a sinister plan in mind, the butcher welcomed them in and promised warmth and safety. Yet, no sooner had they entered than the butcher betrayed their trust, ending their young lives and concealing their bodies in the salting tub, like mere pork.

Seven long years passed. The village remained unaware of the secret in the butcher’s shop. One day, Saint Nicholas arrived in the village. He stopped at the butcher’s shop. The air grew tense as Saint Nicholas asked for a meal, specifically the salted meat that had been in the tub for seven years.

The butcher’s heart sank. He knew his sins had caught up with Nicholas and fled from the shop. But Saint Nicholas, the embodiment of mercy, called out to him, “Butcher, do not run away. Repent, and God will forgive you.”

With a sense of solemnity, Saint Nicholas approached the salting tub. With a gesture of his holy hand and a prayer from his lips, a miracle showed. The three children, who had been lost to the world, were miraculously brought back to life. They rose, whole and unharmed, as if waking from a deep slumber.

The butcher was overcome with remorse. He confessed his sins and sought forgiveness. The village rejoiced in the return of the children and praised Saint Nicholas for his divine intervention.

Story Reference: La Légende de Saint Nicolas

Yule Lads from Iceland

The smallest Yule Lad, Stúfur, and his brothers
The smallest Yule Lad, Stúfur, and his brothers

In the snowy landscapes of Iceland, where the northern lights dance in the sky, there is a unique Christmas story about thirteen mischievous brothers. The thirteen guys, Yule Lads, are naughty magical pranksters that will descend one by one from their highland home before Christmas night.

Dec. 12th: The eldest brother, Stekkjastaur, comes first. Stiff-legged and crafty, he sneaks into barns, trying to suckle lambs, but his peg legs hinder his plans.

Dec. 13th: Next to Stekkjastaur is Giljagaur, the gully dweller. He will creep into cowsheds to steal frothy milk when the farmer’s back is turned.

Dec. 14th: Then comes Stúfur, the smallest of the thirteen brothers, with a fondness for leftover crusts. He scurries around the kitchen, snatching pans and scraping them clean.

Dec. 15th: The fourth one is Þvörusleikir. This quick lad will steal wooden spoons used for stirring skyr (a kind of Icelandic dairy product), leaving the cooks bewildered.

Dec. 16th: Pottaskefill, the fifth brother, has a strange penchant for pots. He waits for families to finish their meals, then sneaks in to scavenge for leftovers.

Dec. 17th: Later is Askasleikir with a curious taste. He lurks under beds, licking clean the pans set aside for the house pets.

Dec. 18th: The seventh, Hurðaskellir, finds joy in slamming doors. He just loves making a loud noise in the dark and disturbing people’s peace.

Dec. 19th: Skyrjarmur was the eighth. He will break into the dairy with his fist and gobble up the skyr. He will devour the skyr until he is so full that he burps and sighs heavily.

Dec. 20th: After that, Bjúgnakrækir, the sausage swiper, will come. He will climb into the rafters and perch above the kitchen. Covered in smoke, he feasts on the hung sausages.

Dec. 21st: Gluggagægir, with eyes as sharp as the winter wind, peers through windows. He will spy on children and their toys.

Dec 22nd: Gáttaþefur comes into villages with his enormous nose. He is drawn by the scent of freshly baked leaf bread.

Dec 23rd: Ketkrókur, the twelfth one, uses a hook to snatch smoked meats. But sometimes, his hook is too short to get what he wants.

Dec 24th: Lastly, Kertasníkir shows up. He will follow children and steal their candles.

As the thirteen nights of Yule pass, the lads go back to their home in the mountains and wait to return in the next year.

Story Resource: Jólasveinarnir

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