It's a Paranormal Christmas
Move over, Halloween, because with all its ghosts, goblins, sorcery and cryptids, Christmas is the ultimate supernatural season. Belief is mainstream at Christmastime, when skepticism is considered crass and the ambient magic of the season can infect even diehard humbugs. Religious observances aside, Aaron Sagers picks the best paranormal phenomena from folklore and pop culture that stuff our stockings each December.
aka Father Christmas, Saint Nicholas, Sinterklaas and Kris KringleThis immortal elfen being has the power to manipulate time and space and leads a cadre of other elf minions who watch children and visit them while they sleep. An amalgam of the 4th-century Greek Christian Saint Nicholas of Myra and the Norse god Odin, Santa is a jolly home invader who can slip down chimneys to give gifts to the “nice.” Claus’ existence is supported by the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), which has tracked his journey on radar since 1955.
KrampusA companion of Santa’s, the Krampus is a hairy goat-like demon with horns and cloven hooves who punishes the “naughty” children. Emerging from pre-Christian Germanic folklore, he is sort of an anti-Claus that carries chains, sticks or whips to beat children with, and he may dish out coal, depending on the culture. But if he’s in a bad mood, he’ll stuff children in his sack or bathtub, and carry them to hell for cooking. Krampus night is typically celebrated Dec. 5 in Europe, where people celebrate by dressing as the beast and roam the streets drinking schnapps.
North PoleBased on late 19th-century contributions by cartoonist Thomas Nast and poet George P. Webster -- and seemingly supported by the NORAD Santa Tracker -- we believe Claus lives on a hidden landmass in the icy waters of the Terrestrial North Pole in the Arctic Ocean. Sort of like Atlantis, but with a toy workshop, the North Pole is also home to the icy giant Hyperboreans of Greek myths. The exact location of Santa’s home isn’t known but a recent pop-culture contribution from the movie Elf suggests it is in close proximity to 7 levels of a Candy Cane forest, near a sea of swirly-twirly gum drops, and apparently not far from the Lincoln Tunnel.
Whoville/Mt. CrumpitAnother hidden city with a Christmas connection is Whoville. Talk begins anew each holiday season about the species of roast-beast-eating “Whos” -- discovered by the renowned Dr. Seuss in 1957 -- terrorized by a green, cave-dwelling, bipedal humanoid that resides on Mt. Crumpit. The so-called “Grinch” domesticates dogs, and under the right circumstances, it possesses the physiological ability to grow its heart by 3 sizes.
aka Zwarte PietA character who accompanies Sinterklaas in the Netherlands, Black Peter joins the jolly man on a boat from Spain (where they live instead of in the North Pole) and assists in distributing goodies to nice children. Peter has alternately been a conquered devil forced to help Santa, a Moorish slave and a soot-covered chimney sweep. He will punish bad children, but is not normally as mean as the Krampus -- although he also has a bag for stealing kids for transport back to Spain.
Flying ReindeerSanta travels the globe in a sleigh led by supposedly immortal flying reindeer, which have evolved in the North Pole. At least one of these cryptozoological wonders possesses a bio-luminescent red nose. According to a story by Robert L. May in 1939, and sung about by Gene Autry in 1949, the reindeer adaptation allows survival in the hidden landmass’ foggy Christmas Eves.
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