Ten Terrifying Christmas Customs and Legends From Around the World Will Give You Chills

Hans Trapp. Google Images.

Hans Trapp

 Hans Trapp is another anti-Santa figure from French/German border region of Alsace Lorraine. Legend tells how Trap began as a wealthy man- but greedy and evil to boot. He was so rotten that he was excommunicated by the Catholic church and sold his soul to Satan. Now beyond redemption, Trapp was exiled to the forests. But still, his evil was felt. Disguising himself as a scarecrow by stuffing straw into his clothing, he began to prey on children.

One day, or so the legend says, Hans Trapp was about to eat a small boy he had captured when God, fed up of his evil-doing, killed him with a bolt of lightning. However, this was not the end of Hans Trapp. He continued to roam the earth, dressed as a scarecrow. Like Krampus, Hans Trapp teamed up with St Nicholas- but to earn redemption. While St Nicholas awarded presents to the virtuous- Hans Trapp tries to persuade naughty children to mend their ways and be virtuous- unlike him.

Unlike Krampus, Hans Trapp has his origins in a historical personage: Hans Von Troth; a two meter high, late fifteenth-century German knight, with a terrible reputation. Von Troth had lands and castles on the German side of the border with France and was a thorough nuisance to church and the laity alike.

Von Troth was involved in a land dispute with a local abbot. As part of the feud, he ordered the Wieslauter River blocked, depriving the nearby town of Weissenburg of its water supply. When the abbot complained, Von Troth petulantly tore down the damn, flooding Weissenburg and destroying its economy. In 1491, Von Troth even managed to get himself excommunicated after the same abbot complained about him to the Pope- and Von troth insolently refused to go to Rome to give an account of his behavior.

Von Troth’s sinister appearance, destructive behavior and excommunication from the church all became mixed up in myth and after his death led to the creation of Hans Trapp as a warning to children on how to not live their lives. However, the end of the real Hans Trapp was no gruesome mystery. For Hans Von Troth died quietly, at home of natural causes in his castle at Bergwartstein.