Beware the Kallikantzaroi-Greek Goblins raise hell at Christmas

Who says Santa Claus is the only one trying to come down your chimney during the festive season?

Watch out for the Kallikantzaroi, the holiday demons. These uninvited festive guests may sneak into homes through the chimney or by using the front door.

The origin of the Kallikantzaroi is in Greece, where they’re described either as gigantic hairy demons with a pair of horse legs and boar tusks, or small black creatures that look an awful lot like tiny Satans.   They are also mostly blind, speak with a lisp and love to eat frogs, worms, and other small creatures.

These mythical, goblin-like spirits are said to pop up between Christ’s birthday and Epiphany on Jan. 6, days they devote to wreaking havoc.  John Tomkinson, the Athens-based author of “Haunted Greece: Nymphs, Vampires, and other Exotica” compares their behavior to “…drunken yobs coming out of a pub.”  And the unflattering description suits their bawdy antics: “The Kallikantzaroi cause mischief, they intimidate people, urinate in flowerbeds, spoil food, tip things over and break furniture,” Tomkinson said.

The Kallikantzaroi can only reach the surface during the twelve days of Christmas, from 25 December to 6 January.  The small demons spend most of the year sawing away at the world tree so that it will collapse, along with the Earth.  In other words, the Kallikantzaroi spend all year long trying to bring on the apocalypse.

If you have a child who was born during the twelve days of Christmas, he or she might be at risk of turning into a Kallikantzaros.   To protect your holiday child, you could bind them in a wrap made of straw and garlic, and for extra protection, singe the child’s toenails. The smell of burning toenails would apparently send the demons running in the opposite direction!

If you don’t guard your house against them, these little demons will wreck it.

“…overturn and break all the furniture, devour the Christmas pork, befoul all the water and wine and food which remains, and leave the occupants half dead with fright or violence”

Tips to protect yourself from the Kallikantzaroi:

  • Hang the lower jaw of a pig behind the front door or inside the chimney.
  • Toss a pair of old, smelly shoes onto a burning fire. The stink of aged sweat and burning soles is said to repel the creatures.
  • Hang a tangled strand of flax on the front door.  This tends to flummox the dim-witted Kallikantzaroi, who pause to count the threads, a lengthy task which keeps them busy until sunrise!
  • leave the fire burning in the fireplace, all night, so that they could not enter through it.
  • Leave a colander on your doorstep at night. According to the legends, the Kallikantzaroi will become so obsessed with counting the holes in the colander they’ll forget about murdering you.
  • Mark your door with a black cross on Christmas Eve.

The only reliable cure-all, however, is when village priests bless the waters on the eve of Epiphany, which marks the end of the Twelve Days of Christmas. 

Also on the eve of Epiphany in Cyprus, villagers scatter pancakes on the roof to give the Kallikantzaroi something sweet to eat as they leave town.  Perhaps to show there are no hard feelings?

Unfortunately for the demons, during their absence, the tree heals itself completely, making their entire year’s worth of work totally useless.


Like clockwork, out comes their large saw, and they start to chop it down, all over again.


H/T : WeekInWeird

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