Singular Cerebrations: Festive Free Food

Humanity has a tradition of leaving food out for our favorite supernatural houseguests; from leaving bowls of milk or honey for helpful fairies, to milk and cookies for Santa Claus.  I can't help but wonder if these traditions could be related, and I believe they must be, at least superficially.  Santa is described as a jolly old elf, after all.  

The tradition of leaving food for nocturnal gift bearers began with the Norse during their celebration of Yule.  Odin was thought to ride his eight-legged horse Sleipnir from house to house, and children would leave food out for his steed in the hopes that the Allfather would judge them well and leave them gifts.  This practice continues in Denmark, Belgium, and the Netherlands, where children still believe that Santa's sleigh is pulled by horses instead of reindeer.

In America, the tradition really took hold in the 1930s during the Great Depression.  Parents wanted to teach their children the importance of charity and gratitude in that harsh economic period.  The lesson stuck, and we still carry on the tradition today.  As for me, I've been known to leave gifts for the good folk, and I see no reason not to continue to do so over the holiday season.  I tend to leave a small gift of mead, but I imagine if Santa does stop by, he's probably pretty thirsty and will appreciate it.

Yours in Impossibility,


Tobias Wayland