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5 Absolutely Terrifying Christmas Legends!

terrifying christmas legends

Christmas is a time for family, love and joy, but that doesn’t mean horror doesn’t have a place in the holiday. While many families will be celebrating the annual visit from St. Nicholas on Christmas Eve, some  families will be preparing for visits from more sinister characters. The following five Christmas legends all speak of nefarious creatures or people that do more harm than good during the holiday season. Which one is the scariest? You tell us!

1. Krampus

Krampus has entered the popular culture thanks to films like Michael Dougherty’s Krampus, but that wasn’t always the case. According to legend, Krampus (whose name comes from the German word for “claw”) is a half goat-half demon with cloven hooves and a long tongue who would visit the houses of naughty children. While there he would beat them with birch branches or a whip before taking them back to his lair to live forever. While there he would beat them and torture them some more. If that doesn’t put you in the holiday spirit I don’t know what will!

2. Belsnickel

While many of you may know Belsnickel because of The Office, his origins actually go way back to the early 1800s. Belsnickel is a cantankerous old man who would deliver cakes, candies and nuts to the good children and whip the bad children with a switch on Christmas Eve.

3. Perchta

Perchta is a dual-gendered spirit who may appear either as a beautiful woman or a haggard crone. She would visit homes throughout the 12 days of Christmas and determine (like so many of the other characters in this list) whether or not the children had behaved all year. If they had, she would leave them a silver coin. If they hadn’t, she would slit their bellies open, removed their guts and stuff the hole with straw and pebbles. That’s….quite intense. I’m sure many children dreaded December for fear of receiving a visit from Perchta.

4. Grýla

Originating in Iceland, Grýla is a giantess who is able to sense misbehaving children all year-round. She keeps a record of those children and eats them as a snack during Christmas time. As you can see in the image below, it wasn’t the cleanest meal, though she would frequently make a stew with the naughty children. Fun fact: in later years the legend had her being the mother of the Yule Lads, mischievous creatures who play pranks on the townspeople.

5. Knecht Ruprecht

Knecht Ruprecht has been mentioned as a companion of Saint Nicholas, but he would go from house to house and ask the children to pray. If they did he would give them a treat (apples, nuts, etc.), but if they didn’t he would give them useless trinkets (coal, sticks, etc.). The worst would come if they refused to even try to pray: he would beat them (that seems to be a common theme, doesn’t it?) with his bag of ashes that he liked to carry around. It is even said that he would leave a switch for their parents to beat them with during the year.

What is a scary Christmas/Holiday legend you have heard before? Share your stories in the comments below!



  • Creepshow

    Is that Alfred E. Newman dressed up like Belsnickel?

    • Boone.

      Good question !!
      That image would make the cover to the ” Mad : Christmas Horror Edition ” !!

  • Matt

    I love these folklore/legend posts. You definitely wouldn’t want to end up on the wrong end of one of these characters!

  • Honest

    I’m guessing the common thread of bad children being beaten and killed was pretty much because back then during the winter months you’d be stuck inside almost entirely and kids would become nightmarishly annoying. “Shut the fuck up and stop throwing things at your sister or ‘Belsnickel’ will get you” was probably used with an unsaid “…I’ll be playing the role of Belsnickel, and we won’t be waiting for Christmas Eve.”

  • Gore Hound

    Some of these should make a comeback. No more spoiled children only acting good for the promise of presents

    • David Hill

      Versus only acting good because Gryla will eat them?

  • wildgator25

    Should have included Sinterklaas and Zwarte Piet. If you were naughty, Zwarte Piet would put you in a bag and take you to Spain, of all places.

    • Gildeneye

      Now I understand why we are mostly awful people in Spain! XD

    • Sky Commander

      So all I have to do to get an all expenses paid vacation to Spain is tell Sinterklaas to go fuck himself and toss a bag full of shit at him? Jesus, if I knew that I would have done it years ago.


    My stepmother burned my stepsister with a hot fireplace poker for carelessly disgarding a ribbon.

    • Leland_Gaunt

      That’ll teach her.

  • Sky Commander

    I know when I have kids I’m not telling them that Santa gives them coal if they’re bad, I’m telling them Krampus is going to come and beat your ass like Chris Brown on Rihanna.

  • A couple of months you did something similar with myths from around the world and now this, love these articles.

  • Sven

    Knecht really putting the nice ways of Christianity on display.

  • The conspiractor

    Perchta would also go around slicing open the guts of people, unless they ate oliebollen (, in which case her attack glanced off them thanks to the fat in the bollen.

  • Pc

    Eating children is great…like hanzel and gretal.

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