The 12 Fiends of Christmas

The following Christmas characters are bad ass. If you are a good person, there’s mostly no need to worry, but if not, and you know who you are, watch out. This angry mob might be coming for you.

Click the links to get more of the story on each character and sources for the pictures.

Frau Perchta

1- Frau Perchta: Germany

Frau Perchta is an old hag with a knife who will cut you if you’re bad and replace all your organs with hay. If she deems you worthy, you might get a silver coin. Somehow, I doubt she gives out a lot of those.



2- Belsnickel: Germany

Belsnickel, the St. Nikolas in furs, is nice, if you are. He has candy for all the good little children. If you’ve been up to no good, you could get his switch on your backside or a lump of coal instead of gifts. Like Frau Perchta, he also isn’t the best dresser, with rags and sometimes a mask, creeping around town looking for bad children to punish.


Knecht Ruprecht

3- Knecht Ruprecht: Germany

Another ragged dresser, and this time with a stick to hit you. Starting to see a pattern? Knecht will hit bad children and give them lumps of coal instead of sweets. An especially bad child will be stuffed into his sack and dumped in the woods.



4- Krampus : Alpine countries

The gang of Krampus that crawl down from the Alps are probably the most famous distributors of punishment. Not to be trifled with, they don’t seem to be able to figure out who is good or bad and just attack everyone with their sticks, and with gusto. They also have sacks to stuff bad children into, so they can drown them in a nearby river.


La Befana

5- La Befana: Italy

La Befana is a witch who rides a broomstick and comes down the chimney with either coal or candy. This doesn’t seem so bad after facing the German characters.

Just a bit rude.


6- Olentzero: Basque

Olentzero has mellowed out over the years and just delivers toys now, but in his heydays, he used to cut the throats of people who ate too much on Christmas Eve. Isn’t eating too much what you do for the holidays?



7- Gryla: Iceland

Gryla is an ogress who eats naughty children and is the mother of the Yule Lads, who cause mischief around Christmastime.


Yule Lads

8- Jolasveinar: Iceland

The Yule Lads are nothing like the 7 Dwarfs…and there are 13 of them. I think their actions speak for themselves.

  • Sheep-Cote Clod:                 He suckles yews in farmer’s sheds
  • Gully Gawk:                         He steals foam from buckets of cow milk
  • Stubby:                                  He’s short and steals food from frying pans
  • Spoon Licker:                       He licks spoons
  • Pot Scraper:                          He steals unwashed pots and licks them clean 
  • Bowl Licker:                         He steals bowls of food from under the bed
  • Door Slammer:                    He stomps around and slams doors 
  • Skyr Gobbler:                       He eats up all the Icelandic yogurt
  • Sausage Swiper:                   He loves stolen sausages 
  • Window Peeper:                 He likes to creep outside windows & steal
  • Door Sniffer:                         He has a huge nose, appetite for baked goods
  • Meat Hook:                           He snatches up any meat left out, esp. lamb 
  • Candle Beggar:                     He steals candles


Yule Cat

9- Jólakötturinn: Iceland

The dreaded Yule Cat, who lives with Gryla and the Yule Lads, no surprise, will eat you for dinner if you didn’t get new clothes for Christmas because you didn’t finish your work on time. This is a cascading effect of punishment. Sloppy, slow work, no clothes for you. Then, you’re dinner.


Pere Fouettard

10- Pere Fouettard: France

Pere Fouettard has a whip or rod and is ready to use it on your bad children, but will allow the good ones to have their toys.


Hans Trapp

11- Hans Trapp: France

Hans Trapp, a former Satan worshipper disguised as a scarecrow, delivers beatings to naughty children. I see years of therapy in the future of young French children.


Zwarte Piet

12- Zwarte Piet: Netherlands, Belgium

Lots of Zwarte Piets, Moors from Spain, live with Sinterklaas, the Dutch version of jolly Santa, but when Sinterklaas makes his rounds, one of the Zwarte Piets comes with him.  He travels with a birch rod and a sack and will hit and even collect the bad children in his sack to dispose of later.


2020 doesn’t seem so bad anymore, right?!

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