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  • The Yule Lads, 13 Christmas Poltergeist Trolls on Random Terrifying Holiday Creatures from Around the World

    (#4) The Yule Lads, 13 Christmas Poltergeist Trolls

    Despite their catchy name, the Yule Lads are not an indie band, but Grýla's thirteen trollish sons. By most accounts, the boys are far less malevolent than their homicidal mother, but they're still destructive enough to strike fear into the hearts of most people. They include Door Slammer (who repeatedly bangs shutters in the night like an angry poltergeist), Window Peeper (who stares ominously in on children as they sleep), and Meat Hook (who steals hanging and butchered hams - a common staple in every household? - with a long hook). The most frightening brother is undoubtedly Sky Gobbler, who goes straight for all-out destruction and simply devours the sky, and everyone's oxygen, whole.

    The Yule Lads usually come down the mountain every Christmas, and presumably accompany their mother as she goes from house to house, kidnapping children. In some versions of the story, Jólakötturinn, the child-eating Christmas cat, is even a part of the brood, and stands by to do his own devouring thing as misbehaving children boil away in the family stew.

  • Belsnickel, Christmas Eve's Masked Visitor on Random Terrifying Holiday Creatures from Around the World

    (#6) Belsnickel, Christmas Eve's Masked Visitor

    Belsnickel is a comparatively benevolent (though still frightening) figure whose aim is to dispense (fairly) reasonable justice rather than hellish punishment. According to this article, he's a masked figure who carries a big black sack, and who announces his arrival by rapping on windows or doors early (pre-bedtime) on Christmas night. (The family is then expected to let him in, so he can do his thing out in the open). He apparently has toys and goodies for good children, and switches for naughty ones... though being given a switch is, of course, a hundred percent better than being boiled alive or eviscerated. 

    Other versions of the story are much more sinister, however: some say that Belsnickel drags naughty children into the forest, where he makes them “pay for their mischievous behavior.” What this punishment entails is never specified, but ignorance is bliss.

  • Caga Tio, the Merry Holiday “Poop” Log on Random Terrifying Holiday Creatures from Around the World

    (#10) Caga Tio, the Merry Holiday “Poop” Log

    Everybody knows and loves Mr. Hankey, the iconic “Christmas poo” from South Park, but not many are aware of the rich, steaming tradition he may have been partially based on. Tió de Nadal, AKA Caga ("Caca") Tio, the festive holiday “poop log,” hails from the Catalan region of Spain, and his pungent reign of merriment endures throughout the Christmas season. (He isn't, however, fecal matter proper, but rather an actual log that's supposed to represent dung). In this article, he's described as “a hollow log with stick legs, a smiley face, and a floppy red hat ... a yule branch with a scatological spin.”

    The excrement log's yearly merrymaking begins on December 8, when the Feast of the Immaculate Conception kicks off. Every day, right up until Christmas Eve, children “feed” the log by offering him assortments of goodies, including candy, dried fruit, and nuts; they also swaddle him in blankets to ensure that he stays warm.

    On December 24th, however, the game is up, and it's time for the log to deliver. Kids beat him with sticks while intoning Christmas carols. At the end of the beating, the joy is complete: they lift the log's blanket and discover that he's “pooped out” a dazzling wealth of of candy and gifts. (His purpose served, he then gets thrown into the fire and burned... like any other, regular, non-fecal log falling in the forest without a sound).

  • Grýla, the Giantess Who Eats Kids for Christmas Dinner on Random Terrifying Holiday Creatures from Around the World

    (#3) Grýla, the Giantess Who Eats Kids for Christmas Dinner

    Grýla, another Icelandic Christmas apparition of epic proportions, is almost as frightening as the child-eviscerating Frau Perchta. She's described as a giantess with cloven hooves and thirteen swishing tails … one, presumably for each of her thirteen ominous sons, who are known as the “Yule Lads” (and who are discussed in more detail below).

    Grýla lives deep in the mountains with her demonic brood, and only comes down to the village on Christmas, which basically serves as her hunting ground. Her prey is naughty children, whom she throws into a sack, takes back to her lair, and boils alive. (Everybody deserves a succulent Christmas feast). Her palate, however, isn't limited to kids: she's also rumored to have killed and eaten her first three husbands … because they bored her, and because she felt they made better victuals than companions.

  • Mari Lwyd, the Traveling Holiday Horse Skull on Random Terrifying Holiday Creatures from Around the World

    (#7) Mari Lwyd, the Traveling Holiday Horse Skull

    Mari Lwyd, the dead Halloween/New Year's Eve crossover horse, is a Welsh tradition that's as festive as it is macabre. Traditionally, the ceremony went like this: on New Year's Eve, a horse's skull was mounted on a pole held by a live “puppeteer,” who was draped with a white cloth to hide his body.

    The horse then “traveled” from door to door, trick-or-treat fashion, but here's the great part: in order to prevent it from coming into your house, you had to outwit it with rhymes. (In other words, the ceremony encompassed a sort of pagan-era poetry slam contest).

    The horse was also frequently accompanied by merrymakers and singers, but their intention was holiday cheer rather than home invasion: the ceremony was, and still is, meant to symbolize rebirth and the triumph of life over death.

  • Jólakötturinn, the Child-Devouring Christmas Cat on Random Terrifying Holiday Creatures from Around the World

    (#2) Jólakötturinn, the Child-Devouring Christmas Cat

    Jólakötturinn, the child-devouring Yule Cat, comes to us from the wintry wonderland of Iceland. Though he's often depicted as being bloody-fanged, slavering, and thickly-furred, he acts more like the famously hairless Sphinx cat, because he's always in search of warm clothing. Legend has it that children who don't put out warm items on Christmas Eve (sweaters, socks, scarves, etc) are destined to be eaten alive.

    Moreover, the clothing must be new: Jólakötturinn doesn't accept hand-me-downs, and he doesn't want your stinky moth-eaten coats; and if you put out milk for him, you best put out meat instead of cookies.

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About This Tool

If you grew up in England or the United States, then you must know that Christmas is a warm and pleasant holiday, which opened with gifts from an elf named Santa Claus. You may also be told that Santa Claus is the most friendly person on earth, but children who have bad behaviors will get coal instead of gifts at Christmas.

However, in the folklore of Austria, Switzerland, the Netherlands, and other European countries, Christmas is not always peaceful and happy, scary Christmas monsters and followers will appear. The random tool introduced 10 terrifying Christmas creatures from different countries you may never know.

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