I love white elephant and gag gifts come the holidays and none resonate more that pieces of coal. Why is it that naughty kids are supposed to get a lump of coal?
The idea of jolly old Saint Nick's slightly sinister side appears to pre-date our modern day version of Father Christmas and can be traced back to Italy, where they believe in la Befana, a witch who delivers presents. Legend has it, la Befana enters homes via the chimney and leaves small gifts placed in stockings hung from the mantel. However, for those undeserving of treats and candy, she leaves a lump of coal conveniently taken out of the fireplace as a reminder to naughty children that they must change their ways. Likewise, in the Netherlands, Sinterklaas, and his sidekick Black Pete, also adopted a similar approach to dealing with naughty children.
Whilst in mainland Europe coal was the staple Christmas gift to naughty and disobedient children, in Victorian England, Father Christmas took a different approach. Whilst the offspring of upper class wealthy families were rewarded with candy, toys and fruit in their stockings, the poor (who were believed to be being punished by God for their family's bad choices) were simply given coal. Wow!
Now you can give some "coal" to those on your naughty list, but it's not a bad thing...
XO Marshmallow’s limited-edition Santa's Cookie Coal is a creamy vanilla, blended with crunchy Oreo cookies, and a dash of activated charcoal. Coal is $7.95/dozen and available starting November 28, In-store at 6977 N Sheridan Road, Chicago, IL, and online at www.xomarshmallow.com.
Slip some coal into their stocking to let them know they were on the naughty list this year.