When you’re a little kid, you learn the ins and outs of Santa really early. It’s pretty simple: be good and you get presents. Be bad and you might get coal, or even worse — nothing at all!

But did you know that Santa isn’t the only magical gift-giver associated with the season?

In Eastern Europe, there are a number of characters associated with Christmas, and not all of them are nice like Santa. Some of them are quite terrifying… like Frau Perchta.

Although the legend of Frau Perchta is an ancient one in Eastern Europe, her story was popularized by Jacob Grimm. He called her Frau Berchta, the female counterpart to Berchtold, the leader of “the wild hunt.”

1-wild-huntWikipedia

 The hunt was comprised of elves, fairies, and demons running around and doing evil things. Seeing the hunt in passing was thought to be an omen indicating great misfortune.1-PerchtaHalloween


Physical descriptions of Frau Perchta vary. Some describe her as being a Krampus-like beast, while others describe her as a tall, white-robed woman. Sadly, this was before the age of Instagram, so no selfies of her exist. 1-PerchtenmaskeWikipedia

Sometimes, she is presented as having two faces, which makes sense. The good children of Eastern Europe loved Frau Perchta, while the naughty were terrified of her — and for good reason! Frau PerchtaZombies For Breakst

On the 12th night of Christmas, the Feast of the Epiphany, she would creep into homes and leave a piece of silver in the shoes of children and servants who were good that year. 4-perchtaWikipedia


But if you’d been bad, you were in for a heck of a lot more than just a stocking full of coal.3-perchta Zombies For Breakfast

To the naughty, she gave the gift of slitting open their bellies, removing their organs, and replacing them with pebbles and straw.6-Perchtahttps://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/236x/9b/bc/05/9bbc050b47678bf9f78d42afaf69d16f.jpg


Sometimes, Perchta is portrayed with one extra-large foot. This is commonly taken to mean that the scary lady is a shapeshifter and can take on any form she likes.6-PerchtaAngeliska

As for what she does with those delicious little kid entrails she takes every Christmas? That’s best left to the imagination…10-perchtaPaul Alexander Hawkins

I’ve never been able to fall asleep easily on Christmas Eve, but this just gave me one more reason to lay huddled and sleepless in my bed on the 24th.

Share Frau Perchta’s story with the nice and naughty friends in your life!