Creepy Christmas: The Legends Of Krampus, Belsnickel, Gryla, Rougarou

We all know about Santa Claus, but what about his creepy counterparts? Introducing… Krampus, Belsnickel, Gryla, and Rougarou.

By Patrick Jude

All the leaves have fallen, and each day surrenders earlier than the last to the falling shadowy night. For most of the world, December is the month where silent snow has covered all. Isolation is everywhere.

Madness encompasses those trapped outside, and begins tweaking the minds of those locked up inside. Blizzards woo, power lines fall, and in the thin winter air only one word can be made across the frosty smoke of breath – death.

We all know about Santa Claus, but what about his creepy counterparts? Introducing… Krampus, Belsnickel, Gryla, and Rougarou.

Krampus – The most well known of all the creepy Christmas legends is none other than Krampus, the giant bipedal half-goat half demon hybrid hailing from Europe. The legend says that Krampus, often pictured with broken shackles, is an aid to the devil himself and takes care of naughty children during the holiday season; abducting them, shredding them with his massive claws, etc.  Others say Krampus is actually an aid to Santa Claus…though he still brutalizes children. Perhaps the creepiest part of the Krampus legend, however, is that most scholars agree that the legend predates Christianity, meaning the only nice part of the story, Krampus aiding Cringle, was added hundreds of years after the sinister legend arose.

Belsnickel – Some say this is the owner of our previous legend, Krampus, and that’s the reason for Krampus’ chains. Though not an animalistic, bloodthirsty demon, Belsnickel is every bit as creepy. Donning a beard similar to Cringle’s, as well a big sack of toys, Belsnickel could appropriately be nicknamed the “Anti-Claus”. The beard and the toys are where the similarities end however. Belsnickel very much exemplifies the judgment factor present during the holiday season. Under his rule of law good children received toys, pretty normal, but things get more interesting. Legend has it that this Anti-Claus would confront naughty children. If the child gives an honest admission of their wrongdoings, they simply receive a small slap on the hand. Should the child LIE, however, Belsnickel would either leave an old-timey switch at the child’s house, or proceed to beat the child himself with it after dragging them from their beds. In the most extreme cases Belsnickel purportedly abducted the bad boys and girls.

Gryla – Ah, good ol’ Gryla, the giant troll of Iceland. Gryla roams frozen lands and forests searching for a nice meal, specifically bad children who’ve run away. Standing easily over 10 feet tall, foes would typically freeze with fear at the sight of her. The bloodstains around her mouth often stick around between her feasts, just like the remains of little body parts that purportedly dangle from her beard.

Rougarou – Though not specifically tied to Christmas, the Rougarou is most active in the cold. A Rougarou is similar to a werewolf, but with a beastlier face and more muscle. It’s a human who has been put under a demonic curse. Its unusually long arms nearly drag at floors, and make it infinitely easier to grab victims from a distance. Originating primarily in France, the legend has extended across the globe and the Rougarou is actually still the subject of multiple distress calls each year. The state the Rougarou is most active in? Louisiana.


Born and raised in Orlando, and Socialist to the core, Patrick Jude graduated from The University Of Central Florida in 2015. He currently holds a B.A. in English Literature, as well as an A.A. in Jazz Performance from Valencia College. Jude is heavily tattooed, abstains from alcohol and is an avid Packers fan.

Currently Reading – Demons by Fyodor Dostoevsky