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Random Terrifying Traditional Christmas Legends

  • Thumb of Perchten video

    (#7) Perchten

    The Perchten is a dual-gendered spirit who comes out during the 12 days of Christmas (that is, December 25-January 5). On one hand we have the female Schonperchten ("Beautiful Perchten") and on the other we have the male and aptly named Schiachperchten ("Ugly Perchten"). The former is a giver of luck and gifts, while the other is an ugly beast who looks much like the Krampus and similarly related to the Devil, whom is the most ugly of the Schiachperchten. As can be expected, Schoneperchten gives treats to the good people of the world, while the Schiachperchten punishes the bad.

    What I believe is most terrifying about this character of Christmas mythology is that if it passes you, you can never be too sure which side you'll be met with. On one hand you gave to the poor, on the other hand, you could have given more.

  • The Elf on the Shelf on Random Terrifying Traditional Christmas Legends

    (#2) The Elf on the Shelf

    • Book

    Based on the book, The Elf on the Shelf: A Christmas Tradition by Carol Aebersold and Chanda Bel, illustrated by Coë Steinwart. Now, aside from the fact you can't call something new "a tradition," The Elf on the Shelf is the latest trick for parents to keep children well-behaved during the winter months (if not throughout the year). A mix of the yule lads and Belsnickel (only without the corporal punishment), the story goes that Santa sends out his little helpers — who apparently haven't worked enough through the year making toys for all the good kinder of the world — to all the households of the world to keep an eye on the kids in the final days building up to Christmas. Each day, the elf appears in a different part of the house to monitor and report back to Santa, in case Timmy and Tiffany aren't really staying on their best behavior. 

    Part of the tradition of Elf on the Shelf is that he pulls pranks and does cute and creative things. However, despite the fun and mischief he provides, children are forbidden from touching him. For if they do, he will lose all his magical powers and not be able to report back to Santa. On one hand, that seems like a great idea if you are naughty because then Santa can never truly know. On the other hand, it is rather damning circumstantial evidence.

    Here's a blog dedicated to "creative" Elf in the Shelf ideas, but mostly it's just a blog of creepy ideas.

  • Le Père Fouettard on Random Terrifying Traditional Christmas Legends

    (#10) Le Père Fouettard

    Pere Fouettard is seen to this day during Christmas in Belgium and France. His name means "Whipping Father," so you can already guess how he brings holiday cheer. 

    But that's not the scary part of this story, that's the happy part.

    As the story goes, Le Pere Fouettard began his life as an innkeeper, kidnapper, and murderer, in that order. One day while keeping his inn, three rich boys on their way to a religious boarding school stay at his inn. Recognizing their wealth, Le Pere, along with his wife, decides to capture and murder the children (by slitting their throats) to take their money. Because that somehow seemed like a better idea than ransoming them to their wealthier parents. While trying to make corpse stew, Saint Nick shows up and resurrects the boys. Seeing his power, the innkeeper repents and becomes St. Nick's partner by becoming the official whipping boy of bad boys and girls.

  • Zwarte Piet on Random Terrifying Traditional Christmas Legends

    (#4) Zwarte Piet

    Black Peter (known to natives of the Netherlands as Zwarte Piet) may appear rather tame in theory: he does, after all, give sweets and presents to good little boys and girls and is a companion of Sinterklaas (that is, Saint Nicoholas). The insidiousness of Black Pete comes in the fact that he is a racial stereotype by the lily white natives of the Netherlands and Belgium. Although modern attempts to be politically correct have claimed that the reason for the naming of "black" in Peter's name comes from his occupation as a chimney sweep, the physical appearance says otherwise. Black-face make up, exaggerated red lips, and thick, Brillo-y hair.

    It should also be noted that Pete accompanies Sinterklaas on his journey from Spain, meaning he is likely a moor (like that Othello guy from Shakespeare), as suggested by Jan Schenkaman in Saint Nicholas and His Servant.

    In attempts to downplay the racist background of the character to foreign tourists, the Dutch have tried having the person playing Zwarte Pieten instead paint himself in a variety of colors. This didn't set well with those rooted in the tradition, and he has since returned to his black face roots. In recent years, the backlash returned from figures from other cultures, which has forced the local governments to downplay and rethink Zwarte Piet's role in the winter celebrations.

  • Werewolves on Random Terrifying Traditional Christmas Legends

    (#8) Werewolves

    Yes, werewolves. Although we typically try to limit the lycanthropes to Halloween, B-movies, and steamy fiction, Werewolves have been a part of the Yuletide horror fest since the Middle Ages.

    In modernity, it has since been reduced, reused, and recycled to the claim that simply having the audacity to be born on Christmas Day is cause enough to make a person a werewolf, as well. The 1961 film The Curse of the Werewolf explains that being born on December 25 is mocking Jesus Christ, and so you must be punished. Yeah, that Jesus: bringing the Christmas cheer by punishing not just a baby for being born, but he's also damning any who fall into his or her wake every year.

  • Thumb of 13 Yule Lads video

    (#5) 13 Yule Lads

    The sons of Gryla and her troll husband, Leppalúði, the Yule Lads come in and run around the town in a backward "12 days of Christmas." The Yule Lads show up one at a time on the 13 days building up to Christmas Day, each staying two weeks, so that the first Lad who arrived on December 12 is the first to depart on Christmas Day. The remaining brothers then leave one a day in the same order they arrived until festivities end on January 6.

    While in modern versions of the story, they are mostly just mischievous creatures pulling harmless pranks, such as slamming doors and eating the towns yogurt supply (no joke), the original story of the lads was far more sinister (as you may have guessed given their presence on this list). 

    As in the modern story, they come down from dwellings in the mountains in the days leading up to Christmas day, however, rather than pulling the regular prank or trick, they — along with the Yuletide Cat — keep an eye on all the children and kidnap those who did not receive any new clothes during the season so they can be eaten. 

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About This Tool

Christmas is approaching, and the saddest thing for children is not receiving gifts on Christmas Eve. In fact, more terrifying traditional Christmas legends are spread in some regions of the world. Christmas is not just the bells of the reindeer sleigh and the Santa Claus, but also dark and creepy characters, who are not from the North Pole. Most of these horror characters come from Christian traditions and legends.

The random tool lists 10 terrifying traditional Christmas legends, although you may think these characters are more suitable for Halloween. Have you heard of Krampus, who is the most famous horror Christmas character?

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