Every major culture around the world past and present has had its fair share of mythical creatures. The ancient Germanic culture that existed during the middle ages in Northern and Western Europe is no different and contains some of the oldest and scariest monsters around that have passed into legend.
We are going to round up the ten most fearsome for you – don’t have nightmares!:
10 – Weisse Frauen
The literal translation of this name in English is ‘White Women’. Living in the region of Europe that is now modern day Germany, these creatures were benevolent and did not pose any danger to humans normally. They had the appearance of elves and usually appeared to people bathed in an ethereal white light, hence their name.
09 – Drude
Now this one is much more fearsome and scary – definitely a being that could keep you awake at night! A Drude is a folklore creature originating from central Europe and is traditionally thought of as a demon. It is said to attack people while they’re asleep – invading their dreams to turn them into nightmares
08 – Knecht Ruprecht
As hard as it is to believe, this addition to the list counts Santa Claus amongst his friends?! In the modern western world, we only associate Santa Claus with Christmas but in Germany they have the tale of his helper Knecht Ruprecht also.
Originating in the late middle ages, Knecht Ruprecht traditionally accompanied Saint Nicholas (or Santa Claus as we now know him) when giving out presents to children. If the children had been good he would give them treats but if they were bad then they would receive nothing.
07 – Bean Nighe
The Bean Nighe was a mythical washer woman with crone like appearance and webbed feet who existed in ancient Scotland. The Bean Nighe would wait alongside rivers for people to pass and was thought to act as a portent of doom to whoever saw her as it was a warning of their demise. It was said she could also appear as a beautiful young women depending on the situation.
06 – Perchta
There have been numerous reports of creatures living around the Alpine area of Europe since the middle ages and Perchta is one example. Meaning ‘The Bright One’, she was a wild and uncontrollable deity and dwelled in the mountains of the Alps. She would usually be seen in white robes with one foot larger than the other.
05 – Erdhenne
This is one of the spookier creatures on this list as he was thought to appear to people only to warn of death. Found in the Bavarian region of Germany, Erdhenne was a house spirit and as such did not usually appear in physical form. Occasionally he would do and could be seen as a grey hen-like figure with a shorter than normal neck. According to legend, he would only appear to warn of a death due to take place in the next 12 months.
04 – Rübezahl
Rübezahl was a famous creature from the modern day Czech Republic region, who was described as Lord of the Mountains. Usually he was a kind creature that would treat you well if you did the same to him but he could be moody with a quick temper. For that reason, people were wary of seeing him as they never knew what mood he was in or how quickly his ire could be aroused.
03 – Nachzehrer
A truly scary being, the Nachzehrer was an undead creature found in Poland and northern Germany. It has been described as a vampire in some quarters but this is not technically correct. Nachzehrers do not suck the blood of the living but rather consume already dead bodies for their sustenance or even attack the living. They are not created by being bitten by another nachzehrer but rise from the dead after burial. Traditional folklore suggests that they can be created when someone dies an unnatural or accidental death.
02 – Nidhogg
The Nidhogg was a creature from Norse mythology. The Norse tribe believed the Nidhogg was a large, angry dragon like being that was intent on creating chaos in the universe. He was covered in colourful scales and had large horns protruding from his head.
This large serpent would knaw away at the roots of the world with his large claws and forelegs which harmed them. The Nidhogg hoped that it would eat away enough to destroy the world and achieve its aim.
01 – Mahr
The Mahr is a creature connected with night terrors – in fact the name itself translates into English as ‘mare’ (as in nightmare). It was a goblin like creature that would sit on the chest of its victims while they slept to cause them discomfort. In fact, the cause of people having nightmares in German and Swedish folklore was attributed to the Mahr.
As you can see, the Germanic culture has had its fair share of crazy and scary monsters throughout its long history. While they may be old stories and traditions now, they still exist as part of the modern society to fascinate and scare people. The tales will surely live on as long as people love to be scared.