Not all Christmas creatures are benign like Santa Claus. Krampus looks like a demonic goat who walks on its hind legs like a human. He punishes naughty children, beating them with birch branches and carries a basket on his back so he can carry off a child to eat later.The 5th of December is Krampusnacht ,men in homemade Krampus costumes run around Alpine villages causing havoc. These 'Krampus Runs' continue today. The Karakoncolos looks like a cross between the Devil and a Sasquatch. In Turkey, the legend says he would stand at street corners on winter nights setting riddles for passers-by. If the traveller gave an answer that included the word ‘black’ they were free to go on their way. If not, he would strike them dead .Sometimes the Karakoncolos would just put them in a trance and leave them to roam free. In Serbia, the story says the Karakoncolos jumps on the victim’s back and uses them as a ride. The exhausted person was only released at dawn. Jólakötturinn is the Icelandic Yule Cat or Christmas Cat. Jólakötturinn, who first appeared in the 19th century, a huge, ferocious beast with razor-like whiskers, blazing eyes and terrible claws who consumed any child who did not receive new clothes on Christmas Day.It is tied into an Icelandic tradition in which those who finish their work on time received new clothes for Christmas, while those who were lazy did not . Jólakötturinn could tell who the lazy children were because they did not have at least one new item of clothing for Christmas and these children would be eaten by the Yule Cat. Then there is the macabre skeleton mare of Welsh tradition,Mary Lwyd, which rises from the dead and wanders the streets with her undead attendants, to remind the living of their existence. Mary Lwyd wants to to get into your house. To keep the zombie horse out, you must engage in a battle of rhymes . Usually singing the rhymes to which the zombie horse replies.On New Year’s Eve, the undead mare is represented by a puppeteer parading a horse skull on a pole draped in white cloth around the towns and villages. Next there is a creature from Scandinavian folklore who looks like a gnome and lives among the dead inside burial mounds called the Tomten.He can act as a caretaker of the household, that is if you keep on his good side. The Tomten has quite the temper and is known for biting people who upset him. The bites are poisonous and deadly. People leave a gift of food out on Christmas Eve for the Tomten. One of Iceland’s creatures associated with Christmas is Gryla a giant troll who is bad tempered with an insatiable hunger for children. Each Christmas, Gryla comes down from her mountain dwelling to hunt for naughty children. She catches them in a sack and takes them back to her cave where she boils them alive for her favourite stew.
A Cryptozoology Christmas Carol To be sung to the tune of the 12 days of Christmas:
On the first day of christmas I received in the post an owlman in a large tree
On the second day of christmas I received in the post two thunderbirds
On the third day of christmas I received in the post three almas
On the fourth day of christmas I received in the post four ozark howlers
On the fifth day of christmas I received in the post five gold ogopogos
On the sixth day of christmas I received in the post six bunyips laying
On the seventh day of christmas I received in the post seven Nessies swimming
On the eigth day of christmas I received in the post eight chupacabras sucking
On the ninth day of christmas I received in the post nine yetis dancing
On the tenth day of christmas I received in the post ten spring heeled jacks leaping
On the eleventh day of christmas I received in the post eleven black dogs howling
On the twelfth day of christmas I received in the post twelve bigfoots drumming And an owlman in a large treeeeeee.
(First posted 2009)