Tuesday, December 22, 2015

The Goblins of Christmas

We're all familiar with Santa's helpful elves, toiling away at the north pole making toys in preparation for Christmas.

But in Serbia, there's another small creature that makes itself known during the holiday season and this one isn't so helpful or jolly.

They're called Karakondzula, or Karapandza.  Said to be hideous in appearance, they are described as heavy, squat  little creatures.

In Serbian tradition, the Twelve Days of Christmas are known as the "unbaptized days" and were believed to be a time when various demonic and troublesome creatures roamed freely on the earth.  People took precautions to avoid attracting the attention of any of these bothersome spirits.  Night time was believed to be the most risky period, and people avoided going out after dark for fear of what they would encounter. 

Legend says that the Karakondzula would lie in wait, hoping to catch someone unawares, traveling after dark during one of the twelve unbaptized days.  When the opportunity arose, the creature would spring onto the person's back and begin to torment them.  Forcing the poor victim to cart them around to and fro, giving them no rest all through the night.  Only at dawn, when the roosters began to announce the new day, would the little creature leave the victim's back and run away, off to hide until another night.

These little goblins aren't regulated to Serbian folklore either.  Versions of the creatures can be found in tales from Greece, Turkey, Bulgaria and Bosnia. 
Are they merely the stuff of imagination or are they the memories of something that once existed and have long since faded away?

Art from Banished Demons Book Illustrations Aeron Alfrey

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