The terrifying creatures of Christmas

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Morgan Burleigh, Student Writer

 

 

THE WORLD- Spooky season took its time, the season of giving rushed on by, and now? It’s Christmas time! And that can only mean one thing: Santa’s coming to town! Or…is he?

Wherever you come from, you’ve most likely seen some version of Santa Clause. But did you know that there are some scary versions of our holly-jolly mascot? Hailing from Iceland, France, and Germany, here are some of Christmas’s creepy anti-Santas.

Children in Iceland have many reasons to make sure they spend their year being good little children: Grýla, the thirteen Yule Lads, and the Yule Cat, Jólakötturinn. Grýla is a cave-dwelling giantess that hungers for misbehaving children. She eats them as snacks or in stews in the winter. Grýla is also the mother to the Yule Lads- thirteen child-eating, goblin-like creatures that hunt for sleeping children on the thirteen nights before Christmas. There’s the Window Peeper, Meat Hook, Sheep-Cote Clod, Gully Gawk, Stubby, Spoon Licker, Pot Scraper, Bowl Licker, Door Slammer, Skyr Gobbler, Sausage Swiper, Door Sniffer, and Candle Beggar. The Yule Lads used to be more terrifying, but in 1746 the Icelandic government banned using these scary stories as parenting techniques. Now, instead of haunting your sleep, they only steal your pudding, lick your spoons, or slam your doors to spook you. The Jólakötturinn, the Yule Cat, is a monstrous cat that stalks its favorite prey: lazy people. If you haven’t finished your work or chores, watch out! Your only hope for survival might be receiving a new sweater or a pair of socks.

What do Christmas and Halloween have in common? Surprisingly, boogeyman! One boogeyman of the 15th century that’s still around today is Hans Trapp, the Devil-worshiping, child-eating mad-man who was excommunicated by the Catholic Church and lived on a mountain. He was struck by lightning, but his ghost is still said to haunt those who misbehave during the winter season. Usually when Santa visits, if you’ve been bad, he leaves you a lump of coal. That’s not nearly as bad as what  Frau Perchta does, however. Most children in Eastern Europe, whether they see Frau Perchta as a beautiful, snowy woman, or an old hag, have much to fear- she removes organs and replaces them with straw and pebbles. In an effort to scare her away, many people still wear masks and dance around their fires during their winter festivals. 

Last, but certainly not least, Krampus. What screams Christmas more than a demonic, half-human, half-goat, horned creature that steals naughty children to eat? The stories of Krampus have been around for centuries, but over the years, they’ve softened to be more family-friendly, like the tale of the Yule Lads. Now, Krampus is just a scary, demon-like creature that simply frighten you for misbehaving this year. The legends have come to the US from Austria, Hungary, Germany, the Czech Republic, and Slovenia, and many festivals, known as Krampuslauf, have followed. Krampuslauf is a festival in which many Krampus impersonators and ghouls dress up and spook their fellow festival-goers. These festivities are, loosely, based off an ancient pagan ritual where young men would dress up in ghastly costumes to frighten away potential ghosts.

So this holiday, while you’re leaving out the milk and cookies for Santa, you might want to keep in mind who’s going to be coming down the chimney on Christmas day.

 

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