Tonight is St. Mikuláš eve in the Czech Republic when largely cartoonish and mildly intoxicated teenagers in angel and devil costumes roam the streets looking for children to reward with candy or coal, behavior pending.
While the traditional St. Mikuláš festivities are not typically the stuff of nightmares, Krampus night, an associated Alpine holiday which features horrifying figures in horned devil costumes is widely observed across Central Europe.
(See our coverage of the Krampus Festival, celebrated in the Southern Bohemian town of Kaplice near Austria).
Today international media outlets are buzzing with the discovery of what is said to be an even more frightening St. Mikuláš tradition out of the Wallachian village of Francova Lhota.
One of the most popular yearly events in the region, the holiday can last for up to three days with costumed revellers parading from house to house with an aim to shock villagers.
The age-old Czech custom stems from a bizarre 13th-century ritual which was recorded by Jan Hus a century later when he tells of boys covering their heads in hoods of fur and riding through town to mass backward on a donkey. Other explanations cite pre-Christian associations with death and the demonic form of winter.
We’re not so convinced, however, that the Francova Lhota Mikuláš antics are deserving of world’s-most-frightening headlines; we kinda think these fantastic beasts look like Chewie’s Czech cousins!