Tis the season to celebrate sweet little baby Jesus, but not all the Christmas characters are so cute and cuddly. In fact, some of the characters from Christmas stories around the world are straight up scary. We’ve put together the creepiest Christmas characters from different cultures across the globe.
If you are a little kid in Austria, you better get your s*** together because it is about to go DOWN. You don’t just end up on the naughty list if you’ve had a questionable year because Santa travels with backup in Austria. Bad little Austrian boys and girls are threatened with a visit from the Christmas devil. Krampus travels with whips and chains, and of course, a basket on his back to gather up those who have been really bad. Young men actually do dress up like Krampus and roam the streets in Austria and Hungary terrifying small children. Way to make Christmas traumatizing, Austria!
2. Knecht Ruprecht
Krampus’ German counterpart is called Knecht Ruprecht, or “Farmhand Rupert.” Rupert likes to travel around with switches to beat all the naughty children. He asks children if they can pray. Prayer-minded kids who pass his test get sweets and nuts. Children that can’t pray might get hit with his bag full of ash.
3. La Befana
In Italy, children get presents from a creepy looking witch named la Befana. The story goes that the Vatican couldn’t find any proof of the existence of Santa Claus (cue Captain Obvious). Since the Catholic Church wasn’t too keen on kiddies getting worked up over what they deemed to be a pagan image, they came up with a substitute: an old witch. Imagine getting presents from a scary bag lady instead of jolly old St. Nick. Nice choice, Pope!
Let’s just cut straight to the point- “Caganer” means “the shitter.” While most people might be familiar with nativity scenes that include Mary, Joseph, baby Jesus and the three Wise Men, you get a bonus character in the manger if you’re in Spain or Italy. Caganer originated in Catalonia, but his defecating form has spread across the region. He’s usually positioned somewhere in the back of the scene, but that doesn’t really change the fact that he’s taking a crap at Jesus’ birth. The traditional caganer wears a red hat, but you can find figurines of famous politicians taking a dump as well.
5. Zwarte Piet
“Zwarte Piet” means “Black Pete” in Dutch. Black Pete is Santa’s Helper come Christmastime in the Netherlands. The creepy thing here is the undeniable politically incorrect black-face costumes that celebrators wear. Black-faced Black Pete is in charge of dancing to entertain the children. Welcome to the 21st Century, Holland. Jesus.
6. Christmas Spiders in Ukraine
Arachnophobes might want to steer clear of Ukraine during the holidays. Traditional christmas tree decorations include lots of spiders and webs. An old Ukrainian legend tells the tale of a woman that was too poor to afford Christmas decorations for her children, so she let spiders spin their webs in their tree to make things a little more festive. In the morning, the webs had turned to silver and gold.