Christmas is a time for love and cheer. It’s a time to recollect, reflect and make new memories. It’s time to give and spread joy. It’s the most wonderful time of the year. And Christmas traditions make it even better. However, the traditions and customs we know and follow were not always as merry as we think them to be today,
“The Christmas spirit – love – changes hearts and lives.” – Pat Boone
Creepy origin stories
“Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.” – Clement Clark Moore
All those amazing Christmas traditions, like placing stockings, putting milk and cookies for Santa, kissing under the mistletoe, giving coal to naughty children add greatly to the holiday cheer. But some of these traditions have really scary backstories. Modern day Christmas is a collection of contrasting traditions that can be traced back hundreds of years, whether it’s hanging mistletoes which originated from kissing boughs during the Middle Ages or decorating Christmas trees which the Vikings simply loved. While we are worried about what type of wrapping paper to use for the gifts, our ancestors worried about how to ward off the witches. Most of the traditions we follow during the holidays were, in fact, created for a completely different reason from what we believe.
Christmas traditions with weird backstories
Some of these old traditions have some absurd and eerie backstories that can make our skin crawl. Here are 8 traditions and their creepy backgrounds that you need to know about.
1. Krampus, the Christmas Devil
“Satan? I am not Satan!” the beast growled. “I am Krampus, the Lord of Yule. Now if you do not get out of my way I will tear out your heart and eat it!” – Brom, Krampus: The Yule Lord
Every year, children wait for good old Santa Claus to visit them. Good kids who have been nice all year get gifts and treats from Father Christmas. But in many European countries, kids get a lot worse than just a mere lump of coal. They get a visit from the demonic half-man, half-goat monster with large horns. Krampus is the negative counterpart of Saint Nicholas who steals away bad children and takes them to his lair to torture and eat them. This folklore is widely popular in Austria, as well as Croatia, Slovenia and northern Italy.
2. Christmas Ornaments were actually “Witch Balls”
One of the most popular Christmas traditions are decorative ornaments that are placed on the Christmas tree. These beautiful ornaments come in various shapes, sizes, designs and designs. During the 17th century in Britain, Christmas ornaments were glass-blown spheres and baubles originally known as witch balls. These were decorated on the windows of different houses to trap evil spirits and witches. It was believed that the shiny balls would attract the eye of an evil witch and neutralize them by confusing the witches with the pattern or reflecting it back. They believed it would trap the evil inside and protect their homes from negativity.
3. The Boar’s Head Feast For Christmas Dinner
“Turkey is the main course in more Christmas dinners than any other meat or fowl.” -Patricia Del Re, The Christmas Almanack
Today the traditional Christmas dinner usually involves turkey and a meat dish with all the trimmings. However, during the 1500s in England, upper-class Christmas celebrations involved a particularly sinister and grisly centerpiece as the main dish: a flaming boar’s head. The head was served to guests with candles inside the cooked boar’s mouth to make it appear flaming. Although it may not be appetizing to us now, back then they used to sing a song about it and the kind of threat it posed to people when the boar was alive.
4. Putting a wreath on the door
During the Roman rule, the emperor persecuted people who practiced other religions and celebrations, including Christmas. In this season, the Romans celebrated the Festival of Saturnia, their own religious holiday. During this festival of the Roman god Saturn, traditionally a holly wreath was given as a gift. As a hidden message to other Christians in the region, Christians would hang these wreaths on doors to signal that Christmas was being celebrated in their homes.