The most terrifying Christmas monsters from around the world

Ben Falk

Festive horror monster movies like ‘Krampus’ have become a Christmas staple in recent years, but don’t go thinking that’s the only evil Christmas beast to punish you if you’ve been a naughty boy or girl this year. Here are some of the most terrifying.


If you thought the only women who lived in Iceland were nice and kooky like Bjork, think again. For goodness sake, just look at that picture.

Grýla is a giantess whose favourite meal is child stew and every Christmas she comes to town looking for a slap-up feed. Not only that but she’s got a posse – she’s the boss of the 13 Yule Lads who might leave you a present if you’ve been good, but are just as likely to gift you some rotten potatoes. Our guess is stinky spuds aren’t up there on Santa’s list with ‘Star Wars: Battlefront’.

If you think her home life settles her down and might make her less prone to infanticide, you’re not in luck. She’s already onto her third husband. Guess the first two got tired of being screamed at when they knocked up a lasagne.

Père Fouettard

Now, Father Whipper doesn’t sound very nice, but that’s not necessarily the case, right? Er, well this lovely Frenchman does dispense floggings to children who haven’t been good and then on top of that gives them lumps of coal. So yeah, he’s a douche.

Dressed in a sooty black coat with a long, scraggy beard, some incarnations also have him wearing a wicker backpack so he can cart away kids.

But then this guy has always been nasty – he used to be an innkeeper, but was turned into Père Fouettard by St. Nicholas after he murdered three schoolboys and cut them into little pieces. Oh – and then stewed them in a barrel.


It’s bad enough fearing the arrival of a bearded fat man in a red suit during the festive period, but what if you woke up to see a cloven-hoofed, anthropomorphised goat scuttling down your chimney?

Part of Alpine folklore, he also carries chains and a whip made out of birch branches. Here’s a tip: he’s not much of a sherry fan.


Well-known in German-speaking countries as well as the Pennsylvania Dutch community in the US, Belsnickel is another big fan of the stick.

He also appears to take his sartorial tips from a scarecrow, because he enjoys wearing tattered brown robes or a coat, often tied at the waist with a piece of rope. Fans of the American version of ‘The Office’ will recognise the character thanks to Dwight celebrating Christmas by dressing up as him.

He’s also a bit of a tease – one story has him throwing sweets onto the floor of kids’ rooms and then hitting the ones who grab the goodies straightaway with his cane, which is also known as a switch.

Either way, he’s just another weird dude with a long tongue and rubbish taste in clothes for your children to avoid.

Zwarte Piet

There’s no Christmas monster quite like a racist Christmas monster. Translated as Black Peter, Piet is a favourite of the Netherlands, where he has come in for a bit of a bashing recently due to him being represented by people in blackface.

Originally thought to be a black devil that was captured by St. Nicholas, his guise has changed over the years to be more of a jolly Moor from Renaissance Spain. Hence lots of Dutch people doing the Black & White Minstrel Show while grinning inanely.

Their sheer lack of self-awareness is scary in itself.

Image credits: Rex_Shutterstock, NBC, Þrándur Þórarinsson