Creepy Christmas legends and customs



Krampus is a creature that is described to kind of be a half goat, half human. He kind of works as the opposite of Santa, instead of rewarding good children with gifts, he punishes children who have misbehaved. The night before the celebration of St. Nicholas, it is Krampusnacht, where he appears in the streets and visits people and businesses. He is said to carry birch branches to swat children, or a sack on his back to abduct or drown them, occasionally eating them too or transporting them to hell. It’s quite sinister, really.



Gryla is an Icelandic giantess, there are stories about her to frighten children. She keeps an eye on children all year round and during Christmas she emerges from the mountains to hunt down the ones she has observed to misbehave. She eats them all, either right away or cooks them in a stew. It is said that there’s never a shortage of food for her since there’s so many naughty children.

Le Père Fouettard


Also known as Father Whipper, he is one of St. Nicholas’ helpers too, like Krampus. His origin story is kinda creepy, I’ll just paste it here;

This started to be told around 1150, involves an evil butcher who kidnapped three lost children, murdered them by slitting their throats, carved the meat up and put it in a salting tub. Alas, St. Nicholas turned up at the door and the butcher attempted to ingratiate himself to his saintly visitor by offering him his best meat. Instead, Saint Nicholas resurrected the boys from the dead and sends them back to their parents. Seeing an opportunity for the butcher to repent his sins, the butcher became Father Whipper, a sort of eternal servant, who basically acts as the bad cop to Saint Nicholas’s good cop.

Mari Lwyd


This is a custom in South Wales. A horse skull is mounted on a stick and a person is hiding under a cloth as they, along with a few others, go from door to door. If you open the door to this creature of sorts, you have to respond to their request for entry in song. If the house owner gave in first, the visitors were permitted to have all the food and drink they wished.

Frau Perchta


She’s a creature of Bavarian folk lore, and she would roam the countrysides during winter. She would leave coins for servants and kids that had been nice. Had they been naughty, however, she would cut them open, rip out their guts and replace them with a hunk of straw instead. Super creepy.


Do you have any weird or creepy legends or customs where you are from?


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