It’s almost that time of year again! The best time of year. This is also when a lot of friends and family and coworkers and everyone else will tell you: “Werewolves are for Halloween.” What do you say when this happens?
You say – nonsense, lots of werewolves come out at Christmas!
Firstly, one we absolutely have a reliable source on, and was undoubtedly in folklore and legend, was related by Swedish archbishop Olaus Magnus, who wrote more than a few accounts of werewolves.
The folklore quoted here appeared in his 1555 work “The History of the Northern Peoples,” which had lots of werewolf lore in it.
This particular legend is about how werewolves had parties at Christmas, too!
Werewolves in Livonia would into their wolf-man forms and go around raiding everyone’s cellars, drinking their beer and mead…
There is a gathering of a huge multitude of wolves, which have been changed from men, and which during that night rage with such fierceness […] that the inhabitants suffer more hurt from them than they ever do from natural wolves, for these human wolves break down doors […] and descend into cellars where they drink out whole tuns [tons] of beer of mead.
They then would gather at a high stone wall, where they would take turns leaping over it and see who could leap the highest (just another reason to always give werewolves their proper Acrobatics bonuses).
A statue of werewolves waiting their turn to compete in the jumping games can also be found in an art installation in Chicago, Illinois!
Which is SO COOL, okay!? I especially love the one reading a book.
Some legends also claim that werewolves only turn at Christmas, and not any other time of year.
Conversely, though – supposedly – some people believed that the holiness of Christmastime basically disabled lycanthropy altogether for a little while, letting even werewolves partake in the Christmas celebrations without fear of turning into a beast. I don’t really have proper sources for that one, but it’s one I’ve seen circulated, so don’t take that one completely to heart.
Many European countries (Italy, Germany, Poland…), though, definitely had beliefs that being born at Christmas, specifically on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, would make you a werewolf. This was the basis for the character Leon’s lycanthropy in the 1961 film The Curse of the Werewolf.
I’ve heard that Romania had beliefs that being conceived – but not born – at Christmas means that you’re a werewolf, but I don’t have enough sources for this, either, to say it for sure. Still, it’s a possibility.
Much like the old beliefs about Halloween (also called Samhain), the vale between worlds – our world and the spirit world, namely – is said to be thin around Yule time. All sorts of creatures would come out.
Then we have this idea that, supposedly, in 1560 in Livonia, “a boy lame of leg” would go around the land summoning people and turning them into wolves so they would hunt cattle and sheep; this transformation would last twelve days (twelve days of Christmas, anyone?), at which point the people all turn back into humans again.
So, you see, Christmas is a time of werewolves.
And hey, not all those werewolves are necessarily malicious, either. Some of them just want to drink booze and have fun like normal people – they just drink a lot more booze, as you can imagine.
Now you know – share your festivities with werewolves, or they might just take them anyway! It’s the season of giving, though, so be nice to your wolfish neighbors, or else you’ll deserve it, now won’t you?
This – believe it or not – will be the last werewolf fact for this year. That means this is the conclusion to the first full year of regularly scheduled werewolf facts. I can’t believe how far this little project has come. Thank you for letting me teach you about werewolves (something I have always dreamed of doing) – I hope you’ll stick around for more werewolf facts next year.
I wish you all a very merry Christmas, happy holidays, and a wonderful new year!