"On the sixth day of Creepmas, Krampus gave to me:
Five reasons Christmas is scary!"
- Mr. Universe
Ah, Christmas: a time of holiday cheer and festivities; a time of family and giving. Most everyone who celebrates it agrees that the holiday season is the happiest -- if not most stressful -- time of year (aside from Halloween). However, not everything about this time of year is fun and games. In fact, here’s a few reasons why you should spend the holidays buried under the covers...
Quick, name a country that just has to be safe from any weird holiday fuckery. Greece, right? It’s gotta be Greece! Now, what if I told you that on Greek Christmas, little smelly blind dick-goblins came through the fireplace to screw up your house and violate your things? The kallikantzaroi are a group of little hairy Satanic goat-like goblins with big protruding members and burning red eyes. Generally more mischievous than deadly, the best way to stop a kallikantzaros from ruining your holidays is to actually place a colander on your front step. See, devious as these assholes might be, they actually can’t count past the number two. By putting out a colander, they’re forced to try and count the holes ‘til morning comes and they have to hide. Greece. Alternative ways to repel these vermin including burning stinky shoes, keeping a fire going all night or marking a black cross on your door. Worse yet, the legend goes that if you were born during the twelve days of Christmas (the only time the kallikantzaroi are active), you run a strong risk of becoming one yourself -- a concept actually briefly touched upon in the show Grimm.
As fans of NBC’s The Office already know, no one fears Santa the way they fear Belsnickel. German children better be good this year, or a cranky old man covered in ratty furs named Belsnickel -- an anti-Santa, if you will -- will come to your house and beat you senseless with a switch, right on the porch. And that's on top of getting no presents. Oh, don't worry -- he also has a pocketful of sweets for if you're good. Euch. It's a no-win situation, really. And it's not just Germany that has it rough; versions of this legend are still prevalent to this day throughout many German-speaking European countries, and has even spread to some South and North American regions like Brazil, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Newfoundland and Canada’s prairie provinces. The name Belsnickel loosely comes from a messy amalgamation of the German words for ‘wallop’ and ‘Nicholas’, so you know they're not fucking around. If that's not bad enough, some depictions have Belsnickel wearing a scary mask with a long tongue, and in Austria he’s often accompanied by our next friend on this list:
…and you thought Germany was the king of fucked-up kids stories. Krampus, as you horror fans should already be aware, is a half-goat/half-demon beast who punishes the naughty children with a fate worse than a lump or two of coal. Oh, a monster beating kids not horrible enough for you? Many publications even picture Krampus being a lusty soul as well, presumably because he's jealous of his brother Mr. Tumnus getting all the tail. Originating somewhere in the Alpine region (no one really knows where for sure), Krampus is so freaky that Austria, among others, has actually throughout history banned the traditional annual Krampus parades and any holiday celebrations involving him. That's right: it isn't just fictional horror. People actually parade around dressed as the beast on a special day called Krampusnacht to scare children. It's not all fright and despair, though -- at least Krampus schnapps is a thing, for when you're looking to get Krampiss-drunk.
2. The Yule Lads
Meat-Hook. Stubby. Window-Peeper. No, these aren’t suggestions for your cool prison nickname. These names actually belong to three of the thirteen Yule Lads, also known by me as the ‘Christmas Smurfs from Hell’. The Icelandic Yule Lads have actually surpassed the Jolly Saint as a Christmas tradition back home, and that says more about Iceland’s values than they care to admit. The tradition states that each night from December 12th to Christmas Eve a different little criminal Lad visits your home in the dead of night. If you're good, you get a gift left in your shoe. If you're not, expect a rotten-ass potato. Each lad, not unlike the seven dwarves’ horrible cousins, has a name that reflects their personal modus operandi, like ‘Sheep-Cote Clod’, who harasses sheep and has two peg-legs, or Door-Sniffer, who… yeah. The Lads often travel with their Yule Cat, a beast who eats all the children who don’t receive fresh duds from their parents for Christmas, like that's somehow their fault. Oh, did I mention that some of them are homicidal? Some of them are homicidal. Hey, you know what they say -- the apples never fall from the crab-apple tree, which is evident with their mother:
Omnipotent evil giant cave-dwelling ogress. Makes Blair Witch-esque goats from straw. Eats bad children. Condones and supports all of the above. Most importantly, SEE PICTURE ABOVE. LOOK AT IT. 'Tis never the season for that noise. Enough said.
Finally, Christmas is over and the New Year is upon us. We’ve got to be safe now… right? WRONG. Every New Year in Japan, demonic ogres called namahage harass children with traditional knives, threatening the lazy ones with bodily harm. Can you imagine a menacing red-faced Japanese demon coming at you with a deba knife and yelling ‘are there any crybabies around!?’ in your face? It’s not a good time. It’s so creepy it has it’s own emoji. Japan isn’t the only country, either -- Indonesia has their own version called the Ogoh-ogoh.
The moral of the story, folks? Be good all year round. Just be good all year round.