Legend Tripping

A Christmas Story: Terrifying Christmas Traditions from Around the World (pt. 2)

“He’s making a list, checking it twice. Going to find out who’s naughty or nice.”

It’s official. Santa Claus is coming to town this week. While excited children await presents and candy in the United States, in some parts of the world, children remain vigilant as they wait for their treats. These children have been told ghastly tales of frightening characters in an attempt to scare them into being good. In the first part of this list, we delved into Krampus, Pere Fouettard, and the Kallikantzari. Part two will focus on Frau Perchta, Mari Lwyd, the Yule Cat, and Hans Trapp. So, get ready. Things are about to get spooky in part two of A Christmas Story: Terrifying Christmas Traditions from Around the World.

Frau Perchta

Originating in Austria and Bavaria, the legend of Frau Perchta is that of a witch who goes to the homes of children to see if they’ve been naughty or nice. Like with Santa Claus, nice children receive gifts or candy. Naughty children are subject to a terrible fate. Legend states that Frau Perchta disembowels naughty children and fills their bodies with straw. That’s one way to make sure children will behave in the future.

Mari Lwyd

The tale of Mari Lwyd originates in Wales. This infamous figure is more of a New Year’s character than a Christmas one. Said to have a horse’s skull and wearing a long cloak, Mari Lwyd travels from home to home with a chanting group trailing behind, wishing everyone a happy new year. This creature is not responsible for punishing naughty children or rewarding good ones, as with the other characters on this list. Mari Lwyd may be fearsome, but is quite harmless.

The Yule Cat

The Yule Cat is an Icelandic legend. This Satanic cat stalks towns, peering into children’s bedrooms, looking for naughty children to devour. The only way to save yourself from the Yule Cat is to leave visible the clothes you got for Christmas (it was said that if you got clothes for Christmas, you had been good all year). If you do not receive clothes, you make sure to leave out old clothes and hope they pass muster because if you don’t, the Yule Cat will come for you.

Hans Trapp

Perhaps the most terrifying character on this list is Hans Trapp. Originating in France, Hans Trapp is said to have been a man known for his nastiness and greed, along with many deals with Satan to become wealthy. After being excommunicated by the Catholic Church, he lost everything and took to roaming the countryside dressed as a scarecrow. While stalking the countryside, he cooked a shepherd boy over a fire and was about to cannibalize him when Trapp was killed by a lightning strike. Hans Trapp sometimes comes back around Christmas, searching for tasty children that have perhaps wandered too far from home.

Those were four of the most terrifying Christmas legends from around the world. For those of you who like some scares with your holiday cheer, I hope you enjoyed this list as much as I enjoyed researching it. Happy holidays and keep it spooky!


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