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Creepy creatures lurking out of sight

Halloween may have come and gone, but I still like reading spooky stories of creepy creatures and mythical monsters. There’s just something fun about sharing folklore legends and ghostly encounters and all sorts of skin-crawling spooky fictional stories.

Last year, I wrote a column detailing some of the mythical monsters that parents around the world use to scare their children into behaving (and also sleeping with the light on). I shared some folkloric creatures from the Philippines, Ireland, Australia, and more.

This year I thought I would share a few more. Christmas is coming up so fast, and I figure the best way to forget about all the stress of holiday shopping and decorating is to pretend it’s still Halloween! Here are a few more of the world’s strange creatures (along with a few snarky comments because laughter is the best defense against scary stuff, you know).

Beware: some of these creatures aren’t for the faint of heart!

Slavic folklore of eastern Europe and Russia tells of a witch-like being known as Baba Yaga. She looks like a particularly hideous old woman with sharpened teeth, and she flies around on a mortar instead of a broom. The strangest part of her legend, however, is that she supposedly lives in a hut which stands suspended on giant chicken legs. Can you imagine how much her house sways in the wind while it’s perched on top of those skinny legs?? Maybe she could consider moving somewhere else, settling down to enjoy retirement, and stop eating people?

The Tata Duende from Belize is a mythical creature who spreads mischief. The name roughly translates to grandpa goblin. You’ll be able to easily spot the goblin by his wide brimmed hat, missing thumbs, and his feet which point backwards. Some stories say he lures children into the woods, and you’ll have to hide your thumbs to escape him. While that’s certainly menacing, another legend says he likes to braid horses’ manes and little girls’ hair. I wonder how he manages to do that without thumbs though…

In Indonesia, the Wewe Gombel is a mythical ghost who kidnaps neglected children until their parents see the errors of their ways. She’s said to live at the top of a palm tree. The ghost creature apparently treats the children kindly, so this one actually isn’t too scary compared to others. What young kid wouldn’t want to hang out in a palm tree for a while?

A fictional monster in Haiti known as the Metminwi is simply described as a man with incredibly long legs. He roams around towns to catch and then eat anyone outside after midnight. Presumably, his long legs make it impossible to outrun, so perhaps it’s best to not take a late-night stroll if you’re having trouble sleeping. Maybe just eat a snack from the fridge instead.

Folklore of Belgium and the Netherlands tells the tale of the Bokkenrijders (translated as Buckriders). They’re a bit like a supernatural motorcycle gang, except they ride flying goats through the sky instead of motorcycles. Imagine glancing up one night and seeing that! In the 1700’s, several groups of raiders co-opted the name as they terrorized different farms, making them a little less mythical than everyone liked.

Though all these creatures are from around the world, we supposedly have at least one mythical monster in America traumatizing unsuspecting people too: the Jersey Devil. The creature, described in many ways as resembling a flying kangaroo, a dragon, or some weird animal mashup, originates from Pine Barrens, New Jersey. It’s been sighted several times over the past couple hundred years, but not as often as one week in January 1909. People all over the state claimed to see the devilish creature. Years later, some of those sightings were uncovered as a hoax by a man who attached fake wings to a real kangaroo.

Just as we’ve grown up with stories about the monsters lurking under our beds or somewhere in the dark, kids all over the world have their own creepy creatures to deal with. Folklore is fascinating, and there’s so many different stories all around the world. Perhaps we can add these to the scary stories we tell for next year’s Halloween. It’s never too early to get into the holiday spirit!

 

Holly Taylor is a Staff Writer for Roanoke-Chowan Publications. Contact her at holly.taylor@r-cnews.com or by phone at 252-332-7206.