Christmas is coming and this year I’m not into it. Something you should know about me is that I have always been the spirit of Christmas. As soon as Thanksgiving is over, I would crank up the holiday tunes and watch every Christmas movie I could get my hands on. I cut out snowflakes and hung them from the ceiling. I put up lights, I made decorations when I couldn’t buy them. I would find a way to wear some kind of Christmas hat even if I had to wear a uniform at work. I would play Christmas tunes on the flute and guitar, most likely to the chagrin of everyone within earshot. It was my absolute favorite holiday and I loved everything about it.
This year, I am not in the mood. I am in Buenos Aires where it is summertime and so hot that the subway will smell like human body odor for months to come. I went to a mall two weeks ago and there was a huge Christmas tree and Santa taking pictures with children. Santa was in his classic Coca-Cola designed attire (you know the bearded guy in the cozy matching tracksuit). The kids waiting in line to talk to St Nick were cute and families were smiling. I didn’t feel like stealing all the decorations to ruin Christmas, but I didn’t really feel anything besides kind of bad for Santa because it was 90 degrees outside and he was not dressed for it.
I put up a couple decorations, but only because I accidentally came across the little box where I kept the ones from last year. I only put up the stuff that required minimal effort. I have a string of lights on a bookshelf and I’ve plugged them in a couple times. I still have this stupid little tree I made from green paper last year and two of those tinsel things that I never know what to call. All of that is out and bringing cheer or something but it isn’t doing anything for me.
In the spirit of all things Scrooge and Grinch, I’m bringing you a very unpleasant list of Christmas characters that are less than jolly. This list covers the most terrifying (least jolly) Christmas monsters that are still in modern day traditions. Santa might be watching day and night, but these Christmas creatures will bring you something more sinister than a lump of coal.
1. Santa’s Helper is a French Murderer
Our first Christmas creature is tagging along with Old St. Nick in southern Belgium and northeast France. Père Fouettard is the name. This fellow is dressed in rags and follows Santa Claus as he doles out gifts. The tale of Père Fouettard’s origin is horrifying. In the 12th century, legend says he kidnapped and murdered three boys and cooked them in a stew. Good old St. Nicholas came along and brought the chopped up boys back to life. Père Fouettard was punished by being doomed to eternally follow Santa Claus as his helper. You would think Santa’s Assistant application would have “Have you ever harmed a child?” as a pretty prominent question. He brings bad kids lumps of coal or flogs them. In America he crossed the ocean and arrived in the United States as Father Whipper, doling out spankings to misbehaved children.
2. Cannibal Satan Worshiper
Just in case children aren’t scared into good behavior by the thought of a good spanking doled out by Père Fouettard, the story of Hans Trapp will certainly do the trick. Trapp is said to have devoted himself to Satan. The Catholic Church frowns on that, so they excommunicated him to the forest. Hans Trapp lurked in France in the Alsace and Lorriane regions where, dressed as a scarecrow, he would jump out of the woods and feast on children. God had enough and struck him with lightning before he could eat another child. He might have retired from cannibalism but Hans Trapp still comes from the forest in the days leading up to Christmas, to remind kids to behave lest they get eaten by an undead scarecrow.
Krampus one ups both of those French monsters. Krampus is the Satan of Christmas. He shows up on December 5th and brings children a good present or a rod for bad behavior. Krampus is derived from the German for claw (krampen) and describes the terrifying way Krampus presents himself. He is part goat, has horns, and is a demon in the flesh. His origins go further back and are connected to demons from Norse and Greek mythology. Krampus doesn’t stick to just giving a bad gift, he is said to search for bad children and punish them however he sees fit. Children have a right to be terrified of this legend, because a popular tradition is for drunken men to dress up like Krampus and hit children with sticks as they run through the streets at night.
4. Elf on a Shelf
I know this one will draw some ire from readers, but I can’t hide my disdain for this super creepy crap. Elf on a Shelf is a new Christmas tradition that has taken hold primarily in the United States and Canada. The Elf on a Shelf moves around at night, getting into all sorts of mischief and when children wake up in the morning he is in a different place around the house. What sounds just like a cute thing for kids and a pain in the butt for parents, is actually incredibly disturbing. The elf is there to watch children and report their behavior back to Santa. Some scholars are afraid that this new tradition is preparing children for a totalitarian police state. Having their every move monitored in their own homes is normalized by the presence of the jolly elf spy.
Merry Christmas, ya filthy animals.