‘Tis the season for joy, goodwill, and festive cheer. But hold onto your holiday spirit. We’re heading off on a spine-chilling journey through Europe’s most hair-raising anti-Santas. And truthfully, they’re guaranteed to make you rethink any mid-year hi-jinx.

“The festive frights often have interesting back stories that stretch back to ancient folklore”, explained Tim Gallagher in his Have yourself a monstrous Christmas: Europe’s scariest anti-santas article for Euronews.

So, who are these ghoulish characters causing nightmares before Christmas?

  • Krampus (Austria and Germany) – This half-goat half-demon creature is aptly named after the German word for claw, emerging every Krampusnacht on 5th December. But Krampus isn’t your average gift distributor. On the contrary, he’s notorious for beating and even kidnapping children who’ve been naughty not nice. Recently, he’s clawed his way back into popular culture. Now, you can buy Krampus merch, see films, and take part in krampuslauf, which involves dressing up like him and striking terror through the streets.
  • Gryla (Iceland) – This devilishly dark Christmas witch has a worrying penchant for cooking children in a stew for her 13 troll sons. The outlook isn’t much brighter for survivors, who must contend with her fearsome pet cat Jólakötturinn. It prowls the streets, preying on those who don’t have new clothes for Christmas. You could call it a cat-and-mouse game with stakes nothing short of feline ferocity!
  • The Kallikantzaroi (Bulgaria, Greece, Serbia, and Turkey) – These subterranean goblins spend most of the year trying to induce the apocalypse by sawing down the ‘World Tree.’ Come Christmas Day, they’re surfacing, wreaking havoc, and trying to gain entry into unsuspecting households. But fear not! A pig’s jawbone on the door frame or a colander on the doorstep can fend off these undesirable party crashers.

Here’s to a frightfully fun-filled festive season, free from the clutches of Europe’s most blood-curdling anti-Santas!


At La Academia, our effective approach to fast-track language learning is brought to life by fascinating cultural references. Get in touch if you dare, for courses and tuition options that making language lessons more entertaining than eerie.