9 Of The Most Terrifying Christmas Traditions From Around The World

Published December 21, 2022
Updated December 22, 2022

The Kallikantzaroi, The Greek Christmas Goblins Trying To End The World

During the 12 days of Christmas, beware, for the Kallikantzaroi may emerge from their homes at the center of the Earth to wreak havoc and cause mischief after the sun sets.

These foul, ugly beings will break into your home, urinate on your plants, cause your food to spoil, smash furniture, and generally be a proper nuisance if you aren’t careful.

Greek Christmas Goblins

FacebookKallikantzaroi attempting to saw through the Tree of Life, which is how they spend their time when they’re not causing mischief on the surface.

At least, that’s what Greek folklore tells us.

According to SPIEGEL International, legend claims that the Kallikantzaroi roam the Earth between Christmas Day and January 6, the day of the Epiphany in Christianity.

During this time, the Earth’s waters are allegedly “unbaptized” or “unclean,” allowing the despicable creatures to surface and cause damage wherever they go.

Descriptions of their appearance vary widely, from ugly, human-like creatures with iron clogs to short, hairy goblins with monkey arms and cleft hooves. The one commonality among these descriptions? The Kallikantzaroi are hideous.

As told by the folks over at Helinika, the Kallikantzaroi are chthonic, meaning they reside in the underworld.


One depiction of a Kallikantzaros (the singular form of Kallikantzaroi).

Their diet reportedly consists of unsavory items like insects, snakes, mice, and rotten fruit. As servants of the Devil, they fear holy water, religious icons, and fire.

They also are said to take commands from a creature they call their “mother,” who decides which humans will be subjected to the Kallikantzaroi’s mischievous deeds.

Some Greek families have even hung the lower jaw of a pig behind the front door or inside their chimneys to keep the Kallikantzaroi at bay, while others swear that hanging a tangled strand of flax will cause the dimwitted creatures to pause and count each thread until sunrise instead of attacking.

However, the surest way to protect your home from the Kallikantzaroi is to light a fire, though burning an old leather shoe allegedly offers extra protection — as the smell is enough to deter even the foulest of creatures.

Austin Harvey
A staff writer for All That's Interesting, Austin Harvey has also had work published with Discover Magazine, Giddy, and Lucid covering topics on mental health, sexual health, history, and sociology. He holds a bachelor's degree in screenwriting (widely considered to be a bad move) from Point Park University.