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Kallikantzaroi, Greek Christmas Goblins

Updated on November 7, 2014

Greek Christmas Folklore

All folklore stories and legends in my country, Greece,are coming from the source named "Conventional Wisdom and Trandition".

There are traditions kept and shared over the years mostly by old women in villages and rural areas.

Those places are deeply connected with Nature,fiction,and story telling.

Grand-mothers like mine used to believe in superstitions and carry the mystery of their fictional essence to infants .

Traditionally they were gathering the family around the fireplace or the stofa and narrating fairy tales entrusted by their own grand-mothers in their youth.

The fairy tales were restored,transformed and molded the way each lady thought might be efficient regarding the purpose of this story telling.

A story telling could be less realistic and more fictional if the motive was to discourage children from going out without permission or remain strictly close to family affairs .

On this lens, I share with you the legends and myths related to Greek Christmas Folklore.

*Image taken from a Byzantine wall painting

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      Kallikantzaroi-Goblins

      Kallikantzaroi-Goblins
      Kallikantzaroi-Goblins

      The origin of "Kallikantzaroi"

      The word Kallikantzaros is of Greek origin and refers to non-benevolent goblins of the Greek Folklore.

      They usually abide underground and come to surface during Christmas (25 December to 6 January).

      According to Wikipedia ,Kallikantzaros means 'Kalos Kentavros " or "Beautiful Centaur".

      Actually many folklorists in Greece believe that they originate from souls of dead released from the Underworld,werewolves and Centaurs

      Various names for Kallikantzaroi

      1. Kallikantzaroi
      2. Leprechauns
      3. Goblins
      4. Gnomes
      5. Trolls
      6. Ghouls

      Spirits, Fairies, Leprechauns, and Goblins: An Encyclopedia
      Spirits, Fairies, Leprechauns, and Goblins: An Encyclopedia

      A fabulously entertaining work with over 100 delightful illustrations--Library Journal calls Spirits, Fairies, Leprechauns, and Goblins its "favorite work of 1996."

      In more than 2,000 alphabetically arranged entries, readers will meet angels, demons, elves, encantados, fairies, familiars, keremets, nats, nymphs, and many other strange beings from around the world.

       

      Kallikantzaros risen to surface

      Kallikantzaros risen to surface
      Kallikantzaros risen to surface

      Kallikantzaroi (Goblins) and the World Tree

      The myth about the Kallikantzaroi and the World Tree reminds us the presence of a legendary Tree which roots are hidden underground.

      Kallikantzaroi are sawing the roots of this tree to make Earth collapse with it.

      BUT when Christmas comes they forget everything, go up to the surface messing the world and when Epiphany arrives theygo straight back to their caves.

      Meanwhile the Tree roots have already recovered and they start again sawing.

      Modern Greek Folklore and Ancient Greek Religion

      Modern Greek Folklore and Ancient Greek Religion: A Study in Survivals
      Modern Greek Folklore and Ancient Greek Religion: A Study in Survivals

      Originally published in 1910, this book analyses the customs and superstitions of modern Greece as a means of gaining a greater understanding of ancient Greek belief structures. Analogies and coincidences between ancient and modern Greece had been pointed out prior to the publication of this edition, but no large attempt had been made to trace the continuity of the life and thought of the Greek people, and to exhibit modern Greek folklore as an essential factor in the interpretation of ancient Greek religion.

       

      Appearance and Attitude of Kallikatzaroi

      The appearance of these bizarre and occult entities differs from place to place,region and traditions .

      Many people have imagined ( less witnessed) them having horse like legs,hairy bodies,small, smelling horribly,red eyes and tongues and long curved nails .

      There are witnesses that describe them tall and dressed in a bizarre way with dark skin and long ears and dog face.

      However they are creatures of the night.

      They also enter the houses through the chimney.

      It's been said that they go around the houses,steel the food,the children and everything that has a value for the inhabitants of this place.

      The storytellers describe them as evil creatures who damage and destroy the houses and should be treated with cookies and sweets.

      When going out to do their nasty things,they do not miss to spoil the gardens,unless the lady of the house places a colander with holes.

      The Kallikantzaroi start counting the holes till the sun rises and they are forced to escape back to their bowls.

      Poll for Kallikantzaroi?

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      Superstitions and Legends

      It is commonly believed in many rural areas in Greece that children being born during the Christmas Time tend to transform into Kallikantzaroi.

      Those children might have the characteristics of those entities as a punishment for their mothers to bear them during the Christmas Time of sacred Holy Mother.

      Anyway it was also a deep belief that those who had a Guardian Angel had escaped this strange transformation.

      Christmas in Ritual and Tradition-Christian and Pagan - by Clement A. Miles

      Epiphany

      ...and the pause of Kallikantzaroi running riot over the Earth

      I remember my grandma saying that Kallikantzaroi beware of Holy Water and Light.

      For twelve days Kallikantzaroi (from Christmas Day to Epiphany on 6th January) are running around creating disaster,spoiling and damaging belongings of villagers,according to "Haunted Greece",a book written by John L.Tomkinson .

      Indeed the blessing of the Waters on the Epiphany

      on January 6th of each year becomes the greatest enemy of this evil creatures.

      They run back to their caves fearing to return again and being burned by the Agiasmos (the Blessed Water).

      In old times people used herbs in order to dismiss the evil Kallikantzaroi and the evil energy derived from them as well.The herbs were mostly hyssop, thistle, and asparagus spread over the fireplace.

      Share your comments and viewpoints.What do you think about Greek Folklore,Christmas Legends and more!

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