You know Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Vixen, Comet and Cupid and Donner and Blizten ... but do you recall the most terrifying Christmas characters of all? For some time now, Christmas has been a terrifying holiday masquerading as the "most wonderful time of the year." As much as we may love Santa Claus and his predecessors for shelling out presents to good boys and girls during the yuletide season, we mostly ignore that it's a reward system with traumatic consequences for a social contract none of us ever agreed to.
Yet, Santa is the least offensive (aside from being the de facto overlord) of these characters as he only deals with those who end up on his "Nice List". But what happens to those who end up on his Naughty List--they get a lump of coal? Perhaps; in some traditions--ancient and modern--we bad boys and girls don't get off so easy. Here we unveil some of the most scary and traumatizing characters who have haunted the most wonderful time of year throughout the Ages.
So what is the most scariest Christmas legend? This list will give you a foundation of how evil, scary and twisted the holidays can be.
Belsnickel Hailing from Germany, Belsnickel is a creepy looking figure. Covered in patchworked rags to keep his identity secret, he also wears furs and carries a switch with which to threaten children. In the weeks leading up to Christmas,
The Elf on the Shelf 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
Krampus Krampus (whose name comes from the Germanic root for "claw") dates back long before the time of Christ, but in modern day is more or less the ultimate Christmas demon, the companion and antithesis of Santa Claus
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
13 Yule Lads The 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
Knecht Ruprecht 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
Perchten 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
Werewolves Yes, 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
Gryla 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
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. The safeword is "Jingle Bells"But that's