Le Père FouettardPere 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.
The safeword is "Jingle Bells"
But that's not the scary part of this story, that's the happy part (as some BDSM aficionados may have already knew, in their heart of hearts).
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 dead boy 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. Because that made sense to the French in the 12th century.
One of the few non-Germanic characters on this list is the Gryla, who comes from Icelandic mythology and is a terrifying lady ogre whose preferred diet was naughty children. Because nothing says "Merry Christmas!" quite like being fed to a horrifying crone. According to Jon Arnason, Gryla is described thusly:
“Grýla has three heads and three eyes in each head ... Horribly long, curved fingernails, icy blue eyes at the back of the head and horns like a goat, her ears dangle down to her shoulders and are attached to the nose in front. She has a beard on her chin that is like knotted yarn on a weave with tangles hanging from it, while her teeth are like burnt rocks in a grate.”
In 1746, a decree was issued prohibiting the use of Grýla and the Yule Lads, as they served no function other than to scare small children. This has lead to the crafting of a few songs which claim that she has died, however a few of them suggest that she could always return to the living, should the number of naughty children increase.
WerewolvesYes, werewolves. Although we typically try to limit the lycanthropes to Halloween, B-movies, and erotic fiction, Werewolves have been a part of the Yuletide horror fest since the Middle Ages.
As you can see, they come in B-grade erotic holiday fiction as well!
According to The World Encyclopedia of Christmas, Olaus Magnus, a Swedish folklorist, wrote that werewolves gathered on Christmas night to “rage with wondrous ferocity against human beings, [attacking their homes and devouring the inhabitants]” in Prussia, Livonia, and Lithuania. But the Christmas-werewolf connection doesn't stop there.
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 25th is mocking Jesus Christ and so you must be punished. Yeah, that Jesus; bringing the Christmas cheer by punishing not just a fetus for having the nerve to be born, but damning any who fall into his or her wake every year. What a diva.
The Perchten is the ultimate schizoid. 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 uninspiringly--albeit 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.
As you know, making sure all the children of the world get what's coming to them at the end of the year is quite an enterprise, which is no doubt why Santa has everyone from elves making toys for the good kids, to demons kidnapping the mean-spirited ones helping him out. But what about those kids who were neither particularly good, nor particularly bad? For them, the Germans (as always) give us Knech Ruprecht, also known as Farmhand Rupert. He more or less looks like a shepherd taken out of your neighborhood nativity who sports a long beard, brown cloak and a staff.
Basically his schtick is that he goes around asking kids if they can pray. If they can, they get some awesome gingerbread. If they can't, he gives them some useless junk, and if they refuse, he beats them with a bag of ashes. Like you do. So children better remember the "reason for the season" is the baby Jesus and not just the changes in the seasons, or else they'll either receive some crappy presents or get beaten with some ashes.
13 Yule LadsThe sons of Gryla and her troll husband Leppalúði, the Yule Lads come in and run around the town in a backwards "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 12th 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 6th.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. So be grateful for those new socks!
L The List