Merry Christmas? Not always! Although we all wait for Santa to come down the chimney and shove all the crap we want under the tree, it isn’t just Santa out and about in December. There are many countries around the world that have a kind of Anti-Santa, of sorts. To be honest, I find these stories much more interesting than Santa Claus. So I thought I’d give you a little info on them, just in case your little monsters have realized that no matter how much you say it…..Santa is a sucker and will always bring them presents.
Krampus – Everyone’s favorite half demon/half goat Christmas monster! Krampus folklore is thought to have originated in Germany. He watches just as closely as Santa does. Christmas used to be celebrated on December 5, and Santa would bring his pal Krampus along for the ride. While Santa was busy giving presents to all the good kids, Krampus was out messing with the bad ones: he’d pull their hair, beat them with a stick, and stuff the tastiest looking little rugrat in his basket to cook for dinner when he got home! Today, Christmas is celebrated on December 25, but December 5 is still Krampusnacht (Krampus Night).
Gryla – In Icelandic folklore, Gryla is a giant troll that lives on a mountain and loves to eat children! Every Christmas, Gryla comes down the mountain to hunt for naughty children. Once she catches them, she throws them in a bag, takes them home, and boils them alive to make stew.
The Yule Lads – I forgot to mention that Gryla has sons….13 of them! They’re almost as bad as their mother. A different one visits the kids of Iceland each night for the thirteen days before Christmas. And they have the best names!! Allow me to introduce them:
- Sheep Cote Clog – He has a thing for sheep.
- Bowl Licker – obvious
- Spoon Licker – (must be Bowl Licker’s twin!)
- Doorway Sniffer – He sniffs doorways looking for bread
- Pot Scraper – He steals leftovers
- Stubby – Not sure what he does, but apparently he’s short!
- Door Slammer – also obvious
- Gully Hawk – He hides in gullies and ditches, sneaks into barns and licks the foam off any milk in the milk pails
- Skyr Gobbler – Eats your skyr (yogurt)
- Sausage Swiper – obvious
- Meat Hook – He carries a meat hook to help him steal some
- Window Peeper – obvious and creepy
- Candle Stealer – He steals kid’s candles so they’re left in the dark.
Jolakotturinn (Christmas Cat) – Guess what? Gryla and the boys have a cat! However, unlike my fat, beautiful, loving kitty…this is no housecat. Jolakotturinn is a gigantic cat with blazing eyes, huge claws and razor sharp whiskers! No cat food for this cat – only people. The only way to escape it is if you get new clothes for Christmas!
Lussi – St Lucia’s Day is celebrated on December 13th in Norway and Sweden to mark the beginning of the Christmas season. Centuries ago, the night of December 12th was Lussi’s Night, the night when evil spirits and demons rose up to wander the Earth. Children are told to behave and homes are protected with the sign of the cross. Lussi was portrayed as a powerful, hideous demon. She rides a broomstick and is accompanied by evil spirits, trolls and demons. She destroys property, kills livestock and kidnaps or kills anyone that isn’t already in bed.
Frau Perchta – Perchta folklore comes from Austria and Germany. She wanders during the 12 nights of Christmas. (legend has it that one of her feet is a goose foot.) She likes to go inside people’s homes and inspect them. She’s pretty critical too. If it’s messy, or she sees something she doesn’t like, she’ll come into your room, slice open your abdomen, rip your guts out and stuff you with straw. She doesn’t like to travel alone, and brings her friends the Straggele with her. They look a lot like Krampus, like to steal things from kids, and are sometimes known to rip the little brats to pieces! So you might want to leave some food out for them in case they’re hungry.