Anyone who's heard of Christmas knows that Santa Claus gives presents to all the good little boys and girls around the world. But any naughty children will end up with a stocking full of coal. But have you ever wondered why Santa gives out coal to the bad kids? Well, we're here to tell you.
First, we have to establish the history of Santa and chimneys. Before the Santa we know today in the United States, places around the world had myths surrounding St. Nicholas, Sinterklaas and La Befana. Pretty much all of these characters were known to enter a person's home through the chimney and leave their presents on the mantle. St. Nicholas originally came in through the window, but that myth evolved to the chimney when they became common in Europe.
It should also be noted that all of these characters were known to give bad presents to naughty children. However they usually gave things like garlic, onions or twigs.
The Santa Claus we know today in America began during the 19th and early 20th century. American Santa adopted the same ideas as other versions of the character, including the going down the chimney and the gifts for bad girls and boys. However instead of bringing a bag of onions around with him, the American Santa decided to just grab something out of the chimney to give to the boys and girls. And during the 19th century, most fires in the United States actually used coals instead of the wood logs we imagine today.
So basically, if Santa finds out you've been naughty, he just gets lazy and grabs a few coals from the fire and puts them in your stocking.
And since today most people don't have fireplaces in their house, and if they do they usually use wood logs instead, we've forgotten the meaning behind Santa's coal fixation.
But just imagine if Santa had kept all that coal for himself. He'd be a Fossil Fuels tycoon!
(h/t Mental Floss)