Christmas Monsters

Better watch out… if you’ve been naughty this year. There are worse things than receiving a lump of coal in your stocking. I was shocked my research uncovered numerous Christmas monsters and urban legends. I knew of Krampus because, being a horror movie freak, I watched it.

But never did I imagine other malevolent creatures made their appearance during this beautiful holiday season. I chose two of the scariest Christmas monsters to share with you.

Frau Perchta

“Perchtas from Hrdly”; picture by prof. Karel Rozum.

Also known as Belly-Slitter, Christmas witch, and goddess of Alpine Paganism. Frau Perchta knows if young folks have been naughty or nice. Naughty: a girl who hasn’t finished spinning her allotment of wool for the year or a boy who hasn’t done his chores.

Dirty homes and laziness are Perchta’s sore points. For persons not measuring up to her standards, she slits their bellies open and removes their stomach and insides. Then she stuffs the hole with straw and pebbles. Same ending went for those who ate something other than the traditional fish and gruel on the night of her feast day. (Fish and gruel?)

Folklore says she can be as beautiful as white snow, or ugly, appearing hag-like and old. Some legends depict her as having one enormous foot like a goose or swan. Perhaps symbolizing a goddess with the power to shapeshift. Other times the unique appendage is associated with a swan maiden’s foot or spinning-woman’s splay-foot that works the treadle (peddle) on a spinning wheel.

Perchta shares similarities with the Germanic goddess Holda. Both hold the title of guardian of the beasts and appear during the Twelve Days of Christmas to oversee spinning. Ironically, elders forbid spinning during holidays.

Cult Following
Hohensalzburg Castle. This is one of the earliest depiction, from the Schedel’sche Weltchronik.

Legends rumor Perchta roams the halls of the medieval castle, Hohensalzburg Fortress. She remains an integral part of traditional holidays and festivals in Austria. Townsfolk make wooden masks for the occasions and are called Perchten.

Perchen mask. By User:MatthiasKabel – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

In one region of Austria, Pongau residents hold large winter processions annually to honor the beautiful Perchten (Schönperchten) and the ugly Perchen (Schiachperchten). Participants don pretty masks to encourage wealth. Other participants wear ugly masks to scare away evil spirits.

Popular ski resorts have capitalized on the tradition, enticing sizable crowds of tourists to visit.

The Grither

Don’t say his name. Though people don’t celebrate The Grither like Frau Perchta. And he is unknown to many. The Grither is nonetheless a Christmas monster.

His lack of fame may be because The Grither forbids storytellers of Christmas Monster Tales, as well as everyone else, from saying his name. Unlike Perchta, The Grither is not rooted in folklore. Instead, he became popular in an episode of Tales from the Darkside titled Season of Beliefs, December 29, 1986.

No one has an accurate description of him because the only people who have seen The Grither are those souls who he has eaten — of course, after saying his name. Each time someone says his name, his ears grow bigger, enabling him to hear all around the world.

He is not like Big Foot or the Abominable Snowman, but he is tall as a giant pine tree with a massive body. His skin is transparent. Blue and red veins road map his flesh like roots of a tree. Blue indicates fear, and red shows rage.

The Grither lives in a cave in the coldest, darkest, dampest, most desolate place on Earth and only comes out at Christmas. He was born on a sailing vessel which was thrown off course in a storm in the Arctic Sea. During Christmas.

All the sailors died from starvation, hypothermia, or they committed suicide. Their fear and rage created The Grither.

The Grither punishes those who speak his name aloud.

Because he does not want anyone to tell his story, The Grither punishes those who speak his name aloud. For those who do, his hands — as big as giant boulders — crash through the speaker’s window and grithers their head, squeezing and squeezing until it pops like a puss-filled pimple.

It Wasn’t Santa

Below is a short clip from the Tales From the Darkside episode starring The Grither. The ending is TV gold. Forward to marker 3:00 if you don’t want to watch the entire scene.

“It wasn’t Santa Claus!” Makes me laugh every time.


After gaining knowledge of all the Christmas monsters and after hearing the famous Christmas song, Santa Claus Is Coming to Town, a chill raced along my spine as if icy hands had wrapped around my neck. I recited the words. (In my mind, because no one enjoys my vocals.) I realized how creepy the lyrics are.

He sees you when you’re sleeping
He knows when you’re awake
He knows if you’ve been bad or good
So be good for goodness’ sake! — James Haven Gillespie

Jingle Bells has a similar ominous vibe. We rarely sing the entire song, but further into the carol, the words are a reminder of the reality of life and not all the joy.

A day or two ago,
I thought I’d take a ride,
And soon Miss Fanny Bright
Was seated by my side;
The horse was lean and lank
Misfortune seemed his lot
We got into a drifted bank,
And then we got upsot. — James Lord Pierpont

Upsot means to overturn. (I had to look it up.) Do you have any Christmas Monsters? If so, please share.

A Pause Is Only a Pause

Merry Holiday Season everyone. Thank you for your continued support throughout the year. See you in 2024. I’m taking a pause from my blog (not my writing) to fully enjoy the season. Have fun. I’ll be thinking of you.

Clara Bush
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