In Advocacy for American Christmas Demons

Forget Coal in a Stocking, this is Real Motivation

Forget Coal in a Stocking, this is Real Motivation

Čert is coming to town. On December 6, Čert comes around with St. Mikulás (Czech St. Nick) and doles out the punishment portions of the festivities. So while St. Mikulás hands out candy to good kids, Čert gives the bad kids coal, whips them, or, in special cases, brings them to hell in a sack.

And what do we have in the U.S?

Sure, we have some laterally terrifying Christmas characters. There is something a little spooky about a flying reindeer whose nose lights up. And there’s a lot terrifying about a talking snowman who passes out when his hat comes off.

Don’t even bring up The Grinch. First off, how scary can a demon be when he has a puppy? Secondly, you really think The Grinch is going to scare kids into being good? If you’re not good, some green guy is going to come take your gifts and then hide in a cave until he feels guilty. Then he’ll probably bring them back.


I advocate more demons in the American Christmas tradition. And I am talking scary Christmas demons. The Europeans have them all over the place and they have better healthcare and less fear of public nipples. I’m just saying…there may be a connection.

What I like about the European Christmas demons and monsters is that some of them act as the Yuletide’s bad cop to Santa’s good cop. There’s Krampus, who is like Santa’s evil demon twin. He goes around with Santa (or St. Nick) and is called forth to deal with kids who were bad. Then there are characters like Père Fouettard and Hans Trapp, who both play an anti-Santa role. They punish naughty children harshly; Fouettard, a former evil butcher, naturally cuts the children to pieces and then eats them.

There’s also a bunch of freelance Christmas demons out there. Such as Frau Perchta, whose threatening presence during the twelve days of Christmas keeps German and Austrian kids in order throughout the rest of the year. She punishes offensive kids by ripping out their organs and replacing them with garbage, which seems pretty good incentive for putting away your laundry and brushing your teeth before bed.

Covering the Icelandic kids in this respect is Grýla, an ogress (favorite new word, by the way) who kidnaps, cooks, and eats children who don’t obey their parents. Grýla’s cat, Jólakötturinn (pronounce by drinking a fifth of brennivin and singing along to Sigur Ros being played backwards), is a Christmas demon in her own right. Known as the Christmas Cat, she comes around and eats kids who’ve been lazy all year.

I was told as a kid that I would get coal in my stocking if I didn’t behave, and while this did tone me down in the last two weeks of December, for the rest of the year it had little impact on my rambunctious behavior. But if I’d been told that I would be eaten by an ogress and her cat, I would have (first looked up ogress in a dictionary, and then) been a very good, very scared boy.

Well, maybe.

I think we should come up with an American Christmas Demon.

Let the pitching begin! 

  1. #1 by Lee on November 30, 2016 - 3:59 pm

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