Lock up your daughters. And your sons! No child, strike that, no mortal is safe in the dark hours of Christmas Eve. For there lurks the Christmas troll, drunk on spirits and cavorting with the witches, waiting to trick you into a midnight ride.
Early 20th century author Clement A. Miles was a historian and an amateur anthropologist of sorts. His 1912 collection of Christmas traditions he deemed “both Pagan and Christian” is not just a cross-cultural look at the origins of Santa Claus. Here you will find werewolves, bogeys, and trolls. You will find curses and hexes and imminent death, rituals of the dead and goblin offerings. You will be warned of The Devil and cautioned against laziness. If you are in Bavaria, take heed of the Berchte—a wretched bogey who cuts the stomachs open of naughty children. And at all costs, do not walk outside alone should you ever find yourself in Greece during the Twelve Days of Christmas. For there lurks the most horrid beast of all: the Kallikantzaroi or Karkantzaroi, a horrid half-human, half-animal monstrosity that plays tricks and ravages households, often leaving the occupants dead. Some say it is a mortal man transformed into a beastly creature, others say it is manifested from the supernatural beyond.
If you want to learn more about these horrifying hellhounds of Yule, join me on Friday the 23rd of December, at 10pm PST on Coast to Coast where George Noory and I will speak of things evil and strange, quirky and creepy, funny and festive!
Coast to Coast is a live show that you can listen to via your local AM radio station. Visit their website for a list of stations and times. And don’t forget, you can call in with your own tales of terror!! Open lines in the second hour.
And other weird things I’ve learned just in time for the holidays!
Seriously, though…I was reading A Kidnapped Santa Claus, this fantastic short story written by beloved Oz author L. Frank Baum way back in 1904. It takes place in Laughing Valley–Baum’s alternative to The North Pole–which happens to be surrounded by mountains where there happen to be cave dwelling demons, lurking and sulking and plotting to ruin Christmas. It is like How the Grinch Stole Christmas meets The Nightmare Before Christmas with a dose of The Wizard of Oz!
I was researching Baum to get handle on the many not-Oz books he wrote when I discovered that he was not only prolific, but he also had multiple prolific pseudonyms. Of seven known pen names, three of them were female. Edith Van Dyne wrote an entire series of Aunt Jane books. He also authored under the amazingly common names Laura Bancroff and Suzanne Metcalf. In addition to these feminine non de plumes he wrote under the far more manly names of Captain Hugh Fitzgerald, Floyd Akers, Schuyler Stunton, and John Estes Cooke.
If you’d like to read A Kidnapped Santa Claus, you can get it for free on my publishers website by following this link:
Free Download of A Kidnapped Santa Claus
You will also find there a free download of The Christmas Troll, a collection of creepy Yuletide beasts that lurk in the night around this time of year…and I’ll be discussing this folkloric freakery on Coast to Coast with George Noory, this Friday the 23rd at 10pm PST. More on that later!
Varla on Coast to Coast!
One of the books from the Magical Creatures collection I have been curating for Weiser Books shares this wonderful title: The Occult Power of Goats (And Other Welsh Tales of Goblins, Fairies, Gnomes and Elves). A wonderful collection of stories from the fairy kingdom by a collector himself: William Wirt Sikes
An American journalist, born in the 1830s, William Wirt Sikes lived in Wales at the end of his life (and died there). I like to picture him sharing a spot of tea with an old grandmother who shares with him a tale from her mother’s mother. Or perhaps smoking a pipe with an old farmer who’s seen with his own eyes some of the creatures who inhabit these pages and knows “for a fact” that the stories are true.
Remember too that in the rural parts of England and Wales, as well as Ireland, the people were not so removed from what now are thought to be mere stories. Though cynicism was setting in (you can detect notes of it throughout these works with the more clinical approach to “first-hand accounts”) many people lived their daily lives with a certain understanding and appreciation of the other realms. So these stories straddle the world of the invisible and the visible, the known and the unknown. Here you will find changelings, hobgoblins, pookas, dwarves, and fairies: night fairies, mountain fairies, water fairies… What’s a pooka, you say? You’ll have to buy the book to find out!
Available at Amazon and B&N and Sony and anywhere else you can get e-books for your silly little devices!