10 Creepy Tales From English Folklore

Also sometimes referred to as djinn, the jinn are ancient demons from Arabic and Islamic traditions. They are considered so mischievous and diabolical that they rank below devils in the divine lineup. Rumor has it that jinn, born from smokeless flame, are able to take human and animal forms at will.[1] When they wish to stir up trouble, they assume these forms as a way of blending in with the physical world and maintaining their ruse until they are ready to reveal their true form. You see, jinn live in a world parallel to the one humans know—this means that while jinn can see us all of the time, we cannot see jinn unless they wish to be seen. Part of their trickery stems from their inclination toward chaos and a penchant for revenge.

Since the dawn of time, men, women, and children alike have feared that which goes bump in the night. Such fears manifest in varied forms in various locations, but each story is kept alive by the universal bond of storytelling—generation to generation, these stories are told as a rite of passage for those old enough to doubt their authenticity. These stories, some of which many swear are true, serve as warnings to children who wish to go wandering through the woods alone or teenagers who feel invincible in the face of danger.

By day, this Filipino monster takes the form of a lovely woman—the better to entrance and capture her victims. Once the Sun goes down, however, this demon shows her true form: a batlike being with large, withered wings, the fangs of a vampire, and long, sharp claws.[6] In order to transform into her true self, the manananggal must sever her torso from her legs to sprout wings—trailing her innards around below. Although the manananggal preys upon men during the day, she targets pregnant women at night, drinking their blood and eating their babies’ organs.

In typical Yuletide fashion, Santa Claus is celebrated for his generosity and kindness toward children, especially those who remain on the nice list the whole year through. But for Central European children, their incentive to stay away from the naughty list is a much more visceral one, stemming from their evil Santa Claus counterpart: Krampus. Each year on the night of December 5, the night before the beloved Saint Nicholas’s feast day, Krampus will emerge from his lair to torment villages until sunrise. If you were good, you would be rewarded with candy in your boot from Saint Nicholas. But if you were naughty, then Krampus would seek you out and swat you with his bundle of birch sticks. Sometimes, for especially wicked children, Krampus would stuff you in his sack and speed you away to his lair in the underworld.

In ancient China, a Taoist monk by the name of Hongjun Laozu came across a small village and noticed the people boarding up their doors and windows. They explained that they were preparing to hide from the Nian—a creature that lived high up in the mountains and descended once a year to eat their crops, livestock, and children.[8] The Nian had the body of a bull and the head of a lion and was as ferocious as both. For generations, the townspeople lived in fear. Each year, when the Nian descended from the mountains, they were left to his mercy, or lack thereof. Laozu could not bear to see the people cower in such a way, so he ascended into the mountains that very evening. In the night, Laozu mounted the Nian and rode him to the brink of exhaustion, thus sparing the village for a time.

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