Dark Facts About Your Favorite Christmas Staples

As the Christmas trees go up and National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation takes over our TVs, the annual holiday traditions begin to emerge. From gingerbread houses to pictures with Santa, the holiday season is filled with activities designed to make your Christmas merry and bright.

But not every holiday tradition has a candy cane-coated beginning. Some of the most innocent Christmas staples come with a grim past that would make for some great Halloween entertainment. Discover some of the most popular yuletide pastimes that have disturbing origin stories on our 25 Days of Creepy Christmas kick-off. 

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When Carolers Attack

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It’s one of the most beloved traditions of the holidays. Nearly every tree lighting and Christmas kick-off event features the sounds of the season sung by the heavenly voices of carolers. The delight of ‘The Twelve Days of Christmas’ may put everyone in the Christmas spirit, but in the 1700s, the song was a countdown to mayhem.

Like the terrifying theme that announced Jaws’ approach, Christmas carols were a type of war cry in the 18th century, as carolers were more inclined to wreak havoc than spread holiday cheer. The Christmas caroling of yesteryear was primarily fueled by alcohol, resulting in the harassment of neighbors that included the demanding of food, drink, and unconventional holiday “favors.”

The Unlikely Demonic Portal

For centuries, children have left cookies and milk by the fireplace, anxiously awaiting the arrival of St. Nicholas and his magical bag of presents. It’s a beautiful sight depicted in everything from movies and television to Christmas decor. But there’s another scenario that isn’t talked about, and it’s the creatures and devilish entities that, according to European legends, are also known to use the chimney for breaking and entering.


These terrifying beings vary from region to region. In Greece, there’s said to be a goblin that slides down the chimney and torment families for reasons only known to the beast. During the 1800s in Pennsylvania, locals believed in a disheveled mystical man who would use the chimney as a gateway to whip bad children – not exactly something you see on a Christmas card.

The Truth About Santa

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For most (primarily children), the truth about Santa is crushing: parents actually supply the presents. Today, however, children are about to get a reprieve. The discovery that there is no “real” Santa may be a tough one for kids, but the reason the modern Kris Kringle was created to begin with was to control the adults.


As it turns out, it was the grown-ups who had the behavioral issues. After years of Christmas debauchery, including the crazed caroling mentioned earlier, a group of wealthy Dutch-Americans from New York established the “Saint Nicholas Society” in an attempt to tame the wild holiday. It worked, and Christmas is now more about family and togetherness and less about adult mischief and mayhem. Fortunately, your office Christmas party is out of Santa’s jurisdiction.

Your Fear of Dolls Confirmed

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It’s one of the most celebrated ballets in the nation. Every year, families and friends gather to witness the magic that is the Christmas classic, The Nutcracker. Whether it’s a live version of the beloved play or a special showing on the big screen, this timeless piece continues to be a holiday staple for millions. What you may not know is the original story the ballet is based on could easily pass for a horror cult classic.

Written by E.T.A. Hoffmann, “Nutcracker and Mouse King” was a creepy tale of a young girl who falls in love with a nutcracker doll, gets harassed by a seven-headed mouse, slashes her arm by falling into a glass cabinet, then runs off into the land of the dolls with her nutcracker-turned-real-boy. That didn’t translate into a Christmas blockbuster, so in 1844, Alexandre Dumas adapted the dark narrative and turned it into the story you see today.

A Very Haunted Christmas

If the fear of receiving coal isn’t enough to scare your children into good behavior, we hope a few of these stories may help. And we’re just getting started. Stay tuned for more macabre Christmas tales that will add a touch of terror to your holiday season.


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