The holidays can be a horrifying time for any red-blooded gore hound. All the cheer and merriment being spread around is enough to make anyone sick, even those of us who genuinely enjoy this time of year. Let’s face it- there’s only so much blatant overzealousness that one can take. Even non-horror fans can agree that the month of December can, sometimes, be a little too much. So for those of us still living in October, who would prefer to watch Santa’s Slay and countdown the days until Halloween; this series is for you. Think of the 12 Bloody Days of Christmas as my way of saying hey, horror fans can be merry too. On the first day of Christmas, Bloody-Disgusting gave to me — “Creepy Christmas Traditions”!
Day 1: Creepy Christmas Traditions
Day 2: Christmas Characters Gone Wrong
Day 3: Horrifying Holiday Decorations
Day 4: Twisted Yuletide Tales
Day 5: The Nightmare Before Christmas
Day 6: Creepy Christmas Movies
Day 7: Terrifying Toys
Day 8: Top 10 Potential Holiday Weapons
Day 9: Horror’s New Year’s Resolutions
Day 10: Top Picks for the New Year
Day 11: Ghosts of Christmas
Day 12: Happy Horror Holidays
But, as I quickly found out, not every tradition is as cheerful as you may think. There are some down-right creepy holiday traditions out there that may be the perfect solution to your insatiable need for something quirky.
Kind of a funny name, right? But this demon is nothing to laugh about.
And yes, I said demon.
According to some worldly regions, this funny-looking creature, that I believe could pass for a demented goat, accompanies St. Nicholas on his Christmas journeys. His job is to warn and punish bad little children, while the `angels’ get gifts and candy. The best part about this tradition is that the locals, in countries like Austria and Hungary, set aside December 5th as a day of celebration in honor of the great Krampus. Basically it’s an excuse to dress up in elaborate, demonic costumes, play drinking games and cause mayhem. In fact, if you’re interested in the whole Krampus experience, you won’t even have to cross the ocean- the town of Tivoli, New York celebrates Krampus Night each year.
If I was a kid and heard this, I’d be freaked out. It’s a lot worse than that lump of coal my mom used to threaten me with.
Feel like trick or treating on Christmas? Well, move to Germany! Though the tradition is now rarely celebrated, and only in small, rural towns, `Knocking Nights’ was favored by many during the month of December. For the three Thursday nights preceding Christmas, children dress in costume and move from house to house chanting rhymes beginning with the word `knock’. Pair that up with some noisemakers and a treat for their hard work, and it sounds a lot like one of our favorite holidays; Halloween. I vote that we celebrate Halloween once a week, every week, in October- what do you guys think?
I spend a lot of time at Barnes and Noble. I’m a stereotypical writer- coffee, bookstore, laptop. The other day, as I was enjoying my White Chocolate Mocha, I caught a glimpse of The Elf on the Shelf. Staring at me. No, seriously, he was staring at me through the plastic box. I finally picked him up, read the book, and decided that this is quite possibly the creepiest thing I have ever seen. This coming from the girl who watches The Exorcist in the dark, that says a lot.
The Elf on the Shelf is another ploy by parents to make their children behave during the holidays. The elf sits around your house, takes note as to whether the kids are worthy of a visit from Santa, and he reports back to the big guy. He supposedly lands in a different spot each morning after making his nightly visit to the North Pole. It sounds good in theory, but according to reports, some kids are psychologically `disturbed’ by the elf, some even reporting post-traumatic stress from the thought of a little man running and flying around their house at night. Maybe we should sick Krampus on him.
Spiders on a Tree
Move over Snakes on a Plane: If you visit the Ukraine during Christmas, you’ll instead have Spiders on a Tree. Those from a Ukrainian background traditionally decorate their trees with spider webs instead of tinsel. This is a sign of good luck, falling in place with the legend of a widow who was too poor to afford decorations for the tree. To her and her children’s surprise, they awoke on Christmas morning to their tree beautifully decorated in webs, which, with the rising sun, turned to silver. As a result, the family never wanted again. It’s a beautiful take on a seemingly gothic presence.
Hide the Broom!
Norwegian Christmases tend to mirror what those of us in the United States partake- church services, bountiful feasts, merry-making, and broom hiding. Wait- broom hiding? You heard me- on Christmas Eve, you won’t find a single household in Norway that has a broom or any type of brush. The Norwegian culture believes that witches and evil spirits will rise from the grave on the night before Christmas and steal these necessities to fly through the sky, creating chaos and mayhem until the arrival of dawn.
It sounds a lot like Halloween but, looking at its origin, Christmas in Norway is built upon a Viking celebration called Jul, which, in essence, is a drinking day. Since Viking traditions are built off of folklore, the dead, and dark days of winter, it’s not that far off to think that cemeteries and the walking dead are just as much a part of Christmas as Yule logs and stocking stuffers.
Demented Winter Festival
In the country of Latvia, Christmas is instead taken over by a Pagan festival known as Ziemassvētki. No, I can’t pronounce it either- personally, I think it sounds like a location used for filming HOSTEL, but it’s actually a winter festival that starts on the evening of December 24th and ends on the 25th. In addition to devouring delicacies such as boiled pig’s snout, peas and beans- the locals also leave out food for the `ghosts’ to share. Leaving it in a hay barn, the sauna, etc. this food would be available to the dearly departed until the New Year. As if that isn’t enough to creep you out, there’s the Latvian `mummers’- groups of gypsies or townspeople that dress up as bears, horses and even Death, going from door to door singing songs to drive away evil spirits. But they don’t get candy- instead; they’re invited in for food and ale. Sounds like the grownup version of trick or treating to me.
And there you have it, some of the creepiest, strangest and most awesome Christmas traditions around. Hey, anything is better than fruit cake and out of tune carolers.
Don’t forget to show your love for Andrea by visiting her blog: The Albin Way