Forget everything you think you know about Christmas and discover the evil side of this ironically festive holiday. Try to celebrate after reading about the sinister back stories to the Christmas characters and rituals usually thought of with fond affection. You’ll learn that dark history always wins over sanitized commercialism.
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5) Tomtin – Santa’s Little Vampire Helpers
Before Christianity arrived in Germany’s Black Forest, the Tomtin were Nacht Rupert’s evil assistants. Dressed in red (to signify the color of blood), these nasty, dwarfish creatures accompanied Nacht Rupert on his visits, where he would give gifts to the faithful and kill those who had strayed.
Christmas bells take on a horrifying twist when you consider that Nacht Rupert carried chains with bells on them. The Christians later replaced him with St. Nicholas – to make him more acceptable, while the Tomtin were replaced with Christmas elves – also known as Santa’s little helpers.
The Tomtin would race ahead of St. Nicholas and drag children out of their beds to interrogate them about their faith. If they were ignorant or answered wrongly, the Tomtin beat them with their sticks while St. Nicholas stoned them with coal. When the blood was flowing, the Tomtin would lick the blood flowing from their wounds.
The Tomtin would then take the hearts and livers of their victims and give them to their Master. These devilish, bloodthirsty creatures were often featured on quaint Christmas cards and later evolved into the garden gnomes you see today, although most people nowadays think of them as harmless little statues.
4) Perchta – the Female Krampus
Originally a Pagan Goddess who governed cultural taboos, like rules against spinning wool on the holidays, she soon morphed into a frightening, two-faced witch who could appear as a sweet maiden or a hook-nosed, green faced crone. She was mostly featured in the folklore of Austria and Bavaria.
Said to stalk the countryside during midwinter, Perchta visits during the twelve days between Christmas and the Epiphany (particularly the twelfth night) – where she judges the children and young people of the homes she investigates. She’ll appear in her maiden form and leave a silver coin for those who’ve behaved themselves.
Otherwise, she will slice their guts open, take out their entrails and stomach, then stuff the gaping hole with stones and straw. This gruesome punishment is also reserved for those who eat anything but the traditional feast of gruel and fish – on the night of her feast day.
Followers of Perchta leave food and drink for her, in the hopes of gaining favor, along with riches and abundance for the following year. If you know you’ve been more naughty than nice, you might want to leave an offering to appease this violent witch, in case she decides to pay a visit.
3) Saturnalia – The Original Purge
The idea of flipping the rules on a special period of celebration began in Roman times, where the Pagan holiday of Saturnalia included a time between December 17th and 25th where laws were ignored and courts were closed. No one could be punished for hurting people, performing bizarre sexual acts or damaging property during this time.
The authorities selected an enemy of the Roman people to symbolize the “Lord of Misrule” – which was repeated throughout the different communities in the Roman Empire. These enemies were forced to eat, drink and be merry – including carnal pleasures – during the week, and on December 25th they were brutally murdered.
These apparently innocent men and women were scapegoats for the Romans, who used them as sacrifices at the Temple of Saturn, in order to destroy the forces of darkness. During Saturnalia, gambling was allowed, masters served their slaves and it was called the “best of days” by Catullus, a Roman poet.
Other nefarious activities included rape, public intoxication, eating human-shaped biscuits (these days we consume Gingerbread men and women) and the people would sing naked – going from house to house – which was a naughty precursor to the much-loved Christmas caroling performed by people today.
2) Krampus – Dark Lord of Christmas
Have you been naughty or nice? Originating in the Alpine traditions, the Krampus is a dark goat-man complete with curved horns, a hideous face and a red, lolling tongue. Sometimes dressed in rags and masks, he drags chains and carries a basket for naughty children.
On December 5th – known as “Krampusnacht” – this monster stalks the streets while St. Nicholas gives gifts to the good children. Sometimes Krampus will give bad children coal or bunches of twigs, other times he whips them with chains or carries them off – to be eaten, drowned or sent to Hell.
Considered to be the dark essence of the Horned God – worshipped by ancient pagan witches – Krampus is also depicted with cloven hooves and fangs. The chains represent the Christian Churches’ attempts to bind him. Throughout Europe, his image was used to frighten children into behaving themselves.
Sometimes considered to be St. Nicholas’ assistant, he is also seen on his own – wandering around at night – peering into windows to see if he can find tasty morsels to drag back to his lair. Pray that all you get is a lump of coal or a light whipping, as the alternative is too terrifying to contemplate.
1) Satanic Santas
Some say that Santa is an anagram for Satan, seeing as he was also known as “Old Nick” – although Santa is said to have been derived from Saint Nicholas. Others compare Santa to the Norse God “Odin”, who’s from the North and has an all-seeing eye, like Santa sees when you’re sleeping and knows when you’re awake.
Odin gives presents at Yuletide to his followers when they honor him at their sacred fir trees. A more sinister comparison is Hans Trapp, who punishes bad children in certain parts of France. He was an evil, rich man who also happened to be a Satanist and was excommunicated from the Catholic Church.
After being exiled into the forest, he dressed as a scarecrow and kidnapped children in order to be cannibalized. He was hit by lightning and killed while preparing to eat a young boy. Some believe that he continues to visit children dressed as a scarecrow in order to make sure they behave themselves.
People who live near the mountainous regions near Alsace and Lorraine keep their eyes peeled for a glimpse of Hans Trapp, who hopes to fill his cooking pot with the flesh of naughty children around Christmas time.