It’s Blissemass! And for my contribution, I’m taking a look at some spooky Christmas traditions from around the world…
The Belsnickel is from the Palantine region of Germany. He shows up a week or two before Christmas, looking very ragged and mean dressed in ginger furs. In addition to his torn, tattered clothes he carries a switch in his hand with which to beat bad children. He knows exactly which children have misbehaved. Traditionally he uses the switch to punish them for past wrongs or the threat of the switch to ensure good behavior until Christmastime. When the Belsnickel visits their homes to check up on children he announces his presence with a loud rap on the door or window with his stick. The children have to answer a question for him or sing him a song. If they are good and answer well, he will toss candies onto the floor. However if the children jump too quickly for the treats, they may end up getting a smack from the switch for being too greedy.
Grýla was an ogre living in Iceland. Her third husband was a troll named Leppalúði. She also had a fiendish cat called the Yule Cat… and thirteen mischievous sons known as the Yule Lads.
Grýla, had a horrible appearance with hooves, horns and a tail. She also had a habit of boiling and eating the children she kidnapped. In her defense she only did that to bad children.
She used her supernatural sense of hearing to listen for misbehaving children all around the island. Around midwinter (Christmas time) she would leave her cave and collect the badly behaved children. The kidnapped children could repent their misdeeds and not be eaten.
Her story was so effective in traumatizing children into behaving that in 1746 a decree was adopted by the government to prohibit the use of Grýla’s story.
There is a belief in Southeastern Europe and Turkey of the existence of a race of underground goblins called the Kallikantzaroi. They spend the year sawing the roots of the World Tree trying to bring it to collapse and destroy the earth. Just as they are about to finish the twelve days of Christmas begin.
This is the only time of the year they can emerge and torment humans, so they abandon their sawing and head to the surface. In their absence, the world tree heals itself and the cycle starts anew after the twelfth day. Humans can protect themselves from the Kallikantzaroi during this time. One way is to leave a colander on their doorstep. As they cannot count to 3 (it is a holy number) they will spend all night on the doorstep counting up to 2.
Another method of protection is to leave the Yule Log or a fire burning in the fireplace so that they cannot enter through there. You can also put smelly shoes on the fire as an additional deterrent. Another way to keep them away is to mark your door with a black cross on Christmas Eve and burn incense.
And now for an excerpt from my featured Blissemass book, One for Sorrow…
“Dora.” Finn emerged from the narrow passage between the two cottages and stayed there, watching her. She wondered if he might have been waiting for her. She hoped he had. Very aware suddenly of the expanse of leg between skirt and shoes, she went to him. He drew her further into the shadows.
“I’m going to dinner at Eamon Archer’s house.” He hadn’t asked, so why did she feel the need to explain?
“I like this.” He slid his hand inside the sleeve of her blouse, caressing her upper arm. Dora had never been keen on relationships. The sense that her body was someone else’s to touch—to own—had never been a comfortable idea for her. How then, in this short space of time, had she reached a point where she never wanted Finn Brodie to stop touching her?
“I’d rather be here with you.”
Drawing her into his arms, he held her in that way that was unique to him. Exquisitely tender and yet heart-stoppingly stimulating. His lips, although they barely touched hers, told Dora a thousand things he could never articulate with his stilted speech. With a murmur of surrender, her own lips parted, allowing him to probe her mouth with his tongue, tasting and testing her. Breaking the kiss to move his head lower, he found her nipple, sucking hard through the thin fabric of her blouse. Weak-kneed, Dora leaned back against the cottage wall. Taking her hand in his, Finn placed it inside his jeans so that she could feel the taut muscles of his lower abdomen. Eagerly, Dora’s fingers travelled lower, seeking out his cock within the tight confines of his underwear. He was rock hard.
Dora groaned. “Is this what my life is going to be like from now on, Finn? I’m going to be soaking wet all the time, thinking of you?”
One For Sorrow is available from Amazon