Legends of Santa Claus of the World


The tradition of children receiving gifts during the month of December is relatively the same no matter where you go in the world, but the character who brings the gifts can vary greatly from one country to another. Here are some curious characters who visit the children of the world during Christmas.


1. The boys of Yule, Spain. They are a group of thirteen naughty creatures who take the place of Santa in the Icelandic tradition. They are represented in different ways, from adorable playful gnomes to pesky pests, even as bloodthirsty creatures who kidnap and eat bad children. Each of the thirteen is known to have a different style of mischief. These little gnomes put small presents in the shoes of well-behaved children on the thirteen nights before Christmas Eve.




2. Belsnickel. Germany, Austria, Argentina, United States. Belsnickel accompanies Santa Claus in certain regions of Europe. He looks like a mountain man dressed in furs and sometimes wears a mask with a long tongue. Belsnickel is a character to fear that compels children to be good. Well-behaved children receive candy and small gifts on December 6th. The naughty children, however, receive coal or even a terrifying visits from Belsnickel himself.




3. Pere Noel and La Pere Fouettard, France. Pere Noel is a version of Santa that leaves gifts by the fireplace but this one rides a unique donkey called Gui, which means “mistletoe” in French. The French also have a character named La Fouettard (Father Whipping) who, like Belsnickel, is a figure feared by mischievous children.




4. La Befana, Italy. It is a character who has become part of the holiday celebrations in Italy. She is a kind woman who gave food and shelter to the three wise men on their way to visit baby Jesus. She mounts a broomstick and wears a black shawl and a bag of gifts, like a a witch. La Befana does not like to be seen, and she is said to strike with her broom any child who spies on her.




5. Krampus. Austria, Germany and Hungary. In the Alpine countries, Santa Claus is accompanied by a terrifying bloodthirsty monster called Krampus, which means “claw,” and enjoys beating children. On December 5th, people dress like the Krampus and parade through the streets.



6. Ded Moroz and the Snow Maiden. Russia, Serbia, Bosnia, Ukraine, Macedonia, Poland, and other former Soviet republics. Known as the “Grandfather Frost”, he also wears a red suit and white beard, but drives a troika, which is a traditional Russian horse-drawn sleigh. The legend tells that once, he was an evil sorcerer who kidnapped children and asked for gifts as a ransom. However, he was reformed and now he brings gifts to make kids behave. Ded Moroz is accompanied in his travels by his granddaughter Snegurochka, “the Snow Maiden”.



Perfect Movies for the Christmas Season


Who does not enjoy a good movie next to their loved ones and a good snack? Here are some of the best movies to enjoy during the holiday season.


  1. Love, actually (2003)




This film has become a favorite for lovers of Christmas films. This romantic comedy interweaves several stories, all set in England, with performances by Hugh Grant, Alan Rickman, Emma Thompson, Liam Neeson and Keira Knightley, among others. In this story it will be possible to see a Prime Ministe falling in love with one of his co-workers, a housewife who suspects her husband is unfaithful, a child experienced his first love, two strangers falling in love despite not speaking the same language, among many other completely relatable stories.


  1. Miracle on 34th street (1994)




This is the story of Santa Claus never told. With extraordinary performances by Elizabeth Perkins, Mara Wilson, and Richard Attenborough, this film possesses the most traditional Christmas charm. Kris Kringle, an adorable old man, replaces a bad Santa actor. His work is so good that he is hired immediately to be the main Santa of the Cole’s store. Its charm is so that all the children in New York believe that he is the real Santa Claus, with the exception of Susan, who has had a very realistic education and is willing to prove that Kris can not be the true Santa Claus, without knowing that she is about to experience a big surprise.


  1. The Holiday (2006)




Set during the holiday season, this film tells the story of two complete strangers (Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet) who decide to swap their homes during the holidays. One is a successful writer in a small town in England, and the other is a famous movie editor in Los Angeles. Thanks to this trip, both will know the true meaning of friendship and love, and they will learn what it is to live in peace with themselves in order to live the life they so desire.


  1. Edward Scissorhands (1990)




This classic masterpiece by Tim Burton is an excellent choice for those who want to get away from the traditional Christmas story. Set in a very extravagant world, this story is just as poignant as it is sobering; it will reach anyone’s heart. Pertaining to the dark romantic fantasy, Edward Scissorhands tells the story of a young man who has been artificially created, who is adopted by a traditional family. Edward (Johnny Depp) confronts day-to-day activities with his scissorhands, while falling in love with the oldest daughter of the family (Winona Ryder).


  1. A Christmas Carol (2009)




The classic Christmas movie par excellence could not miss this list. This story of Charles Dickens, full of morals, has been adapted to film more than five times. However, this recent film adaptation is a jewel of animation, and is perfect for children to enjoy. The bitter Mr. Scrooge meets his past, present, and future, while learning a great lesson that will change the way he sees life.

Go grab some popcorn!

The best nativity scenes in the world


The construction of nativity scenes is a typical practice that takes place during the Christmas season in countries that cultivate Christian religious tradition, especially Catholic. It is the representation of the birth of Jesus Christ and also the exaltation of the rural world. In large cities, this practice within homes is a particularly fun activity for children, who enjoy seeing the representation of rivers, mountains, and work in the countryside. Below we present a selection of the best nativity scenes in the world constructed with original materials that have been deserving of records and prizes in past years.


1. In 2011 Mexico was awarded two world records for the construction of the world’s largest nativity scene, with 20,000 square meters and 57 different scenes, and for the number of figures that exceeded a thousand. It was installed in the parking lot of the Azteca Stadium, where thousands of citizens and tourists visited it, astonished throughout the Christmas season.


  1. The largest carved wooden nativity scene in Europe is located in Rajecka Lesna, in the north of Slovakia. It is a masterpiece of Jozef Pekara, which took 15 years to complete. It is 8.5 meters long and 3 meters width. This scene is made up of hundreds of figures representing the life and culture of the Slovak nation, while they are animated by means of a mechanical system. This incredible work can be visited all year round and attracts tourists from all corners of the world.



  1. In the Spanish region of Malaga, chocolatiers built a spectacular nativity scene of over 60 square meters entirely of chocolate, employing over 1400 kilos of raw material. In it, they represented in a detailed way the streets of the city of Malaga, the beach of the Malagueta, its Cathedral, the Castle of Gibralfaro and the image of Jesus The Captive.



  1. Local and guest sculptors from neighboring countries (Ireland, Czech Republic, Portugal, Russia, Denmark, etc.) were gathered in Gran Canaria to build the largest sand nativity scene in the world! In 1,000 square meters and using more than 2,000 tons of sand these artists created a simply magnificent ephemeral work.



Amazing, don’t you think?

Spectacular Christmas Trees


An essential element in Christmas around the world is the Christmas tree. We have given ourselves the task of finding the Christmas trees that every traveler should meet at least once in his or her lifetime. So, prepare your bags and join us to meet these famous pines, typical of the Christmas season.


1. To begin this list we would like to mention the largest tree in the world, made of Legos. That’s right, this Christmas tree is in Legoland, Malaysia and is made from over 400,000 Lego pieces. It is worth mentioning that all the adornments of this tree are also Lego pieces, including lights and candles.



2. Rio de Janeiro is the proud home of the world’s largest Christmas floating tree. With more than 85 meters of height and near 550 tons of weight, this tree was unveiled in 2014. Its record has been recognized by the book of Guinness and it is located on the Lagoon Rodrigo de Freitas, with more than 3 million lamps and 120 kilometers of lights series.




3. Paris, the city of love and lights, can not be left behind in this list. Inside the Galeries Lafayette shopping center is a splendid 25-meter Christmas tree, decorated with stunning Swarovski crystals. In recent years, managers have surprised the public by flipping the tree and showing it upside down throughout the Christmas season.




4. Tokyo, Japan, has always excelled by its extravagant creations, and Christmas can not be the exception. Ginza Tanaka jewelry celebrates its anniversary and has decided that the best way to celebrate is to make a Christmas tree of 2 meters high, made entirely of gold. Its value is close to 2 million dollars, and it has a weight of 30 kilograms of pure gold. Without a doubt, this is a must for lovers of extravagance.




5. The iconic Christmas tree in Taipei, Thailand offers a unique spectacle for travelers. This tree is unique in the world, since it has a system that allows it to project images in 360 degrees, in a three-dimensional way. It is made of LED lights and its show is accompanied by music by the famous violinist Lee Szu-hui. You can enjoy this tree from the month of November until January 3rd in any of its shows every 30 minutes from 17:30 to 22:00 hours.


What Christmas tree would you like to visit this year?

Percy Fawcett and his trip to the Amazon


Born as Percival Harrison Fawcett in Torquay, England in the mid-1800s, Fawcett was a lieutenant colonel, archaeologist, and explorer, who disappeared under mysterious circumstances in 1925, with his son and a friend. The trips of this British explorer were the inspiration for several adventure stories like Indiana Jones and Tintin, and in fact, the real story was nothing away from the fiction of these characters.




Being a man who loved mysticism of nature and had an insatiable curiosity, Fawcett was convinced that the ancient civilizations still existed, hidden in the depths of the South American forests, specifically in Brazil. Fawcett baptized some areas of Mato Grosso with the name “Z” to keep them secretly located. According to this explorer and his various studies of ancient manuscripts, the city he was looking for was reminiscent of Atlantis, and its wonders still had vestiges of the past as mummies, carved scrolls, and sheets.


In 1921, Percy Fawcett sailed to Bahia, Brazil, where after crossing the Rio Gongogi, had gathered evidence of the existence of lost cities. A few years later, he returned to Brazil with the financial support needed to complete their journey, accompanied by his eldest son Jack and a friend of his. The explorers made it clear that if they didn’t return, their family wouldn’t go in their search, because rescuers could suffer the same fate.


With a load of supplies and weapons, Fawcett and his companions journeyed to uncharted territory. Despite having already Brazilian carriers and local contacts, he decided to enter new lands by themselves. Fawcett sent a letter to his wife and crossed to the south of the Amazon.




In the last letter received from them, they showed a very optimistic tone and shared their last location, which was near the Amazon. However, not more of them was known from then. The assumption was that they were murdered by local Indians. The tribe of the Kalapalos was the last to see them, but they said the explorers were pretty weak when they parted. Despite this, no evidence of murder came to light, nor their lifeless bodies were found.


In 1927 a nameplate of Percy Fawcett was found, and in 1933 the compass with which they were traveling appeared near the Mato Grosso. However, it was later discovered that these items were given as gifts to local tribes, before entering into uncharted territory. Several theories suggest that Fawcett lost his memory and lived his last years as head of a tribe. Others insist that they were killed; however, nothing has ever been proven.

John Franklin, the Arctic explorer


He was a captain in the Royal Navy and a British Arctic explorer. The mystery of his disappearance in the Canadian Arctic, with his crew, was resolved more than a century later. The intention of their expedition was to find the Northwest Passage, which had haunted Franklin. It started in May 1845 with 128 men and two ships, the HMS Erebus and HMS Terror, and they were last seen in July 1845 at west of Baffin Bay by the whaler Enterprise.


Lady Franklin financed several rescue expeditions and many lives were lost without producing any results. Among these expeditions one could find ten British boats and two Americans, who possibly had as main objective to reach the North Pole, more than finding Franklin; by that time, he was clearly perished.




Lady Franklin wrote the elegy “Lord Franklin,” in memory of her husband. Its ballads told their fate and became very popular.


Almost ten years after his disappearance, explorer John Rae discovered by chance, while exploring the Boothia Peninsula, an Inuit who told him about a group of 35 to 40 white men who had been killed near the mouth of the Back River. The eskimo showed several objects that could be identified as belongings of Franklin and his men.




In 1859, McClintock found a document dated April 25th, 1848, signed by James Fitzjames and Francis Crozier, captains of HMS Erebus and HMS Terror respectively, giving the news of the tragedy. Among other events, the death of Franklin was dated to June 11th, 1847 and some documents provided information on the boats, that had been stranded on ice since 12th of September in 1846. The survivors had left them to go to the south and try to reach the Back River.


The investigation concluded that the cause of death was a combination of bad weather, canned food poisoning, poor planning, and poor health. It was not until September 2014, during an expedition conducted by researchers from Parks Canada, in a remote controlled underwater vehicle that one of the ships, HMS Erebus, was found near King William Island in the territory of Nunavut. Two years later, in the same area, in 2016, finally he found the HMS Terror.


The Dyatlov Pass Secret


The Dyatlov Pass incident, named in honor of Igor Dyatlov, leader of an expedition whose fate was mysterious, is one of the most chilling mysteries in history. On January 25th, 1959, nine friends and hikers, all under 25 years old, embarked on a ski trip in the Ural Mountains, between the Republic of Komi and Sverdlovosk. This was the last thing ever heard from them before they were all found lifeless months later.




The official cause of death of these young people was classified as a “powerful unknown force,” and the documents of this investigation were kept secret for decades. When the record was finally opened, it was discovered that several pages were missing and that there were too many loose ends.


The eight hikers were students at the State Technical University of the Urals, and were accompanied by an expert guide. They had the aim to reach the mountain Otorten, through a route of category III. Although this is a category of high difficulty, it posed no problem for these brave travelers, as they had participated in tours of the same difficulty in similar routes. Initially it was 9 hikers, however, Yuri Yudin said goodbye to his peers in Vizha because of a disease. According to the official version, the travelers left some belongings such as documents and cameras at this point, which would later help in the search.


As the days pass, the weather got worse for the travelers, who were lost due to the poor visibility, veering westward bound mountain Kholat Syakhl, better known as the Mountain of Death. At this point they decided to rest and camp, and continue in their way as soon as the weather permitted it; however, this could never happen.




According to calculations of the expedition leader, they would send a telegram when they went back, passing through Vizhai, on February 12th to the health club they belonged. Days passed and on February 20th, the relatives of the explorers are the ones who warn their disappearance to start searching, with the help from the army and police, with the highest technology and transportation.


On February 26th, they found the camp in the Mountain of Death, where a destroyed tent was found, but there was no trace of belongings or the youngsters. Later, following some footprints, they found the first two bodies; they were wearing only their underwear and, remains of blood indicated that they were attempting to climb a tree. 600 meters ahead, they found three other bodies whose cause of death indicated hypothermia, but were found in positions that suggested they were trying to protect from something. Months later, they found the remaining bodies, buried in the snow and mysteriously, were wearing clothes that belonged to the other hikers. They also found a camera in the neck of one of the boys; they were able to rescue some photos, however,most of the film was damaged.


The mysterious outcome of these hikers showed that several had fatal injuries or damage in their skull. One of the girls had no ribs, no tongue, and showed levels of radioactivity in her clothing. Another boy had missing teeth, and all showed internal injuries, which indicated that there wasn’t any sort of fight or physical struggle. That is why the possibility of being attacked by the natives of the region was ruled out.


The hiker who had to give up the expedition due to illness, Yuri Yudin, said that when he was called to identify the bodies and the belongings of his friends, he identified military clothing. This made him think that Soviet military was responsible for this tragedy, somehow. However, Yudin would die in 2013 without knowing what had really happened to his friends.

The army of Cambyses


Cambyses II was king of Persia during the Achaemenid dynasty, son and heir of the founder of the Persian Empire, Cyrus the Great. According to the Greek historian Herodotus, the Persian king sent an army of 50,000 soldiers to fight the oracle of Ammon, located in the oasis of Siwa. Having crossed half of the desert that separates the oasis of the Nile Valley, somewhere beneath the dunes of the Western Desert of Egypt, the entire army was buried by a sandstorm.




Many researchers have tried to find the remains of this army for years, to the point of considering the story as a legend; as the French Théodore, the Hungarian airman László Almásy, in whom is based the novel “The English Patient,” and the geologist Tom Brown. It was until 2009, that the Italians Angelo and Alfredo Castiglioni said they had found traces of the buried army of Cambyses in the Sahara Desert, and the story became relevant again.


These archaeologists believe that the men of Cambyses, who allegedly had left Thebes, did not follow the logical route but decided to surprise the ammoniums going deep into the west to the plateau of Gilf Kebir. There they failed to ascend and were buried near the Great Sea Arena, the deadly desert that borders Siwa.


However, Egyptologist Olaf Kaper does not entirely agree with this explanation. He attributed the mysterious disappearance of the army to a combination of political intrigues of that time. According to Kaper, the army was defeated by the enemy, and when they reached their destination, the Oasis of Dachla, they were ambushed by troops of Petubastis III, the Egyptian rebel leader that later was crowned king of the capital, Memphis. The silence around this military failure, according to the researcher, was due to the intention to preserve the prestige of Cambyses after his dishonorable defeat.


Andrew Irvine and his trip to the Everest


Andrew “Sandy” Irvine had 21 years old when he was selected to participate in the “Third British expedition” to the Mount Everest in 1924. He was accompanied by his friend George Mallory, who spoke well of his abilities as an engineer, as he improved the oxygen equipment for the trip, and his good physical condition, as he practiced rowing professionally, although, he was not the best conversationalist.




More than 200 climbers have died trying to reach the summit of the highest mountain on Earth, and it is possible that George and Andrew were the first to do so; however, even today, the evidence of this achievement has failed to be proven .


The two climbers were last seen through a telescope at noon on June 8th, 1924, and they never returned to their Base Camp. It was nine years later that Sir Percy Wyn-Harris matched the height of the Mountaineers (about 8380 m), and discovered Irvine’s ice ax on a rock in a gradient area, where some assumed happened the fatal accident.


Mallory was found frozen in 1999, but the body of Andrew was never recovered, despite the various expeditions conducted in his search. Many speculations still revolve around the “Mystery of Mallory and Irvine” as it is referred in the circles of mountaineering. First, the daughter of Mallory said that his father took a photograph of his wife with the intention of placing it on the top of the mountain, and it was not found in his belongings, which were in excellent conservation due to low temperatures. Secondly, Mallory’s goggles were found in his pocket, a sign that he probably died overnight; so it is likely that after reaching the top, night overtook them.


None of this evidence is conclusive, as it would be if they had found the content of the cameras that both climbers were carrying. If this were true, the New Zealander Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay Sherpa would become the second in climb the highest mountain in the world.


One of the friends of Irvine wrote: “Irvine did not live long, but he lived well in his short life. He testified activity that found its climax in his last wonderful year, a year in which he rowed in the winning Oxford boat, he explored the Spitsbergen, fell in love with skiing, and – perhaps – he conquered the Everest”. Arnold Lunn

Century Travel Club, the secret club for travelers




“All places are unexplored until one discovers them”. This is the philosophy of Century Travel Club, an exclusive club for travelers who have set foot in at least 100 countries from its list.

Bert Hemphill had the idea of founding the club in 1954. Russell Davidson, who was the Director of Tours in his travel agency in Los Angeles, California, helped him realize it.

TCC currently has 319 qualified countries you can visit to be entitled to a membership. Although there has been much discussion over the years regarding the inclusion of different geographical regions and gray areas, the club rules are simple: just a short stop by plane is enough to qualify as a visit.

The rule of “Pay Back” states that travelers can count their visit to a region recognized as a country in the past for a membership, if it’s eventually replaced by a trip to one of the countries in the current list.




At the time when this club was founded was only possible to do so by boat, now it is easier to travel anywhere in the world. The TCC is still a very exclusive club, today it has 2,000 participants worldwide of which only 14 have traveled to all destinations from the list.
John Clouse of Evansville Indiana was the first man to complete the list, and was recognized in 1995 by the Guinness Book of World Records as the most traveled man.



Among the countries consider by the TCC as “qualified destinations” are the 193 entities that are part of the “Member states of the United Nations”, plus another 131 lands with permanent population, including islets as Tristan da Cunha in the Atlantic, Zil Elwannyen Sesel the archipelago in the Indian Ocean, and islands such as Lord Howe and the Marquesas islands in the Pacific.
“World Travel is the passport to peace through understanding”.