A gleefully dark and well-researched exploration of the history and customs of European Yuletide folklore. How did St Nicholas save children from cannibalism? Who were the Yule Lads and why would they steal your sausages? Why was the Alpine Father Christmas accompanied by a demonic figure called the Krampus who bundled children into sacks and dragged them off to Hell? And why do Spanish nativity scenes often feature a defecating peasant?
Over the course of the 20th Century, a universal image developed around the world of Santa Claus as a kindly Christmas visitor but, prior to that, each country, town and community would have Christmas visitors of their own - sometimes human, sometimes animal, sometimes something else entirely - with their own curious set of mythology and customs. The Finns were visited by a pagan goat named Joulupukki that was said to eat anyone who misbehaved. In Iceland, it was said that any child who did not receive an item of new clothing for Christmas would be caught and consumed by the monstrous Christmas Cat!
Bad Santascelebrates some of the most imaginative, terrifying and outright curious Christmas figures from across Europe - looking closely at its legacy of disquieting fairy stories. With beautiful black and white line drawings in each chapter, this unusual, entertaining and gleefully dark exploration of seasonal folklore will make an ideal Christmas gift and the perfect book for reading around the fireside.
Paul Hawkins is a lecturer in English and a musician. His band Paul Hawkins & The Awkward Silences have recorded sessions for BBC Radio 1 and played events at Tate Britain and London's South Bank Centre, as well as the Latitude Festival.