8 Creepy Characters From European Folklore
With Halloween on the horizon, myths, legends and stories will be told all over Europe to capture people’s imagination and warn of evil spirits making an appearance on All Hallow’s Eve. Everybody loves a spooky tale or two, so we have gathered some of the best examples from around Europe. Maybe some of these will even inspire your costume for this year.
Balaurs – Romania
As the birthplace of Dracula, Romania has its fair share of tortuous tales that might keep you up at night, but this is one of the more light-hearted characters from local folklore. A Balaur is a dragon that, in most instances, can talk. Depending on who’s telling the story, they have a varying number of heads and some say they grow a new one for each year they spend in isolation. In 2010, scientists named a dinosaur found in Romania Balaur Bondoc.
Krakonoch – The Czech Republic/Poland
Said to live in the Krkonoše Mountains on the border between Poland and the Czech Republic, Krakonoch is a rather changeable beast. Depending on which side of the bed he woke up that morning, he could choose to send an avalanche your way or save you from freezing temperatures with a breath of spring air. Krakonoch targets hikers in the area and always uses forces of nature to carry out his will.
Wolpertinger – Germany
This next creature may just be getting some bad press. Rather than physically causing people harm, wolpertingers simply frighten anyone walking through the forests of Bavaria with their striking appearance. With various body parts from different animals, they are said to have the head of a rabbit and the body of a squirrel accompanied by wings and antlers. More disturbingly, taxidermists have produced wolpertingers by combing these features from dead animals.
Baubas – Lithuania
This creature is one to really give you nightmares and is often used by Lithuanian parents to keep their children in check. Baubai (plural of Baubas) are long and thin with spindly arms and piercing red eyes. They hide in the dark places of your home, such as under the carpets or in the cupboard under the stars and will come out and kidnap misbehaving youths.
Külmking – Estonia
Estonia is a country filled with beautiful natural habitats. Each of these environments has its own spirit which watches over the landscape, protecting it. For example, Ahti is the judge of the sea and Murumemm is known as the mother of the meadows. If you bother one of these spirits, though, you may have Külmking to deal with. With a name meaning ‘cold snap’, this creature can appear out of nowhere and eat you alive. It has been known to take the form of a dog, cat or, strangely, a haystack.
Tatzelwurm – Austria
Given a different name in Italy and Switzerland, Tatzelworms live in the Eastern Alps. The Austrian incarnation has the long, thin body of a worm and the head of a cat. Fortunately, they tend not to bother humans unless you disturb their burrows, but they will definitely defend themselves if this happens. Stories of Tatzelworms have been perpetuated by strange findings in the forests which are thought to be escaped lizards that were once kept as pets.
Rusalka – Russia
Russia is another country that has plenty of Halloween-inspired stories from its folklore. There is even a tale about an evil, black Volga limousine that drives around draining people’s blood. Rusalkas are water-dwelling creatures similar to mermaids but with legs instead of tails. During one week in June, they appear on land to swing in the branches of trees and dance. If discovered, they trap people with their long hair, drag them underwater and tickle them to death. Some say that you can avoid this fate by offering them a scarf. Every year, when Rusalka Week comes around, swimming in any body of water is banned for fear of coming face to face with these bewitching women.
Gjenganger – Norway
Tales of gjengangers are told all over Scandinavia but most prevalently in Norway. These ghost-like beings are people (usually those who have been murdered or committed suicide) who have risen from the grave because they have unfinished business in the real world. Terrorising those that they once loved, a gjenganger is not like any other ghost. Instead of walking through walls, they have the ability to touch living people. A pinch, called a dødningeknip, will cause a horrible infection to spread throughout the body, killing the victim in their sleep.
Whether you want to go in search of these creatures or simply enjoy a nice holiday, we can take you all over Europe. From city breaks to rail holidays, we will tailor-make everything to your preferences. Call us on 0800 988 3369 for more details.