Kallikantzaroi – Greek Christmas Goblins – Greek Christmas Customs & Traditions

Original Article

Kallikantzaroi-Greek Christmas goblinsKallikantzaroi-Greek Christmas goblins

Kallikantzaroi-Greek Christmas goblins


Many of the same customs and traditions, as well as folklore, are practiced and believed, all over the World, no matter where they originated from.

Through the years, they have been tweaked a bit here and altered a bit there, bits added, and bits taken away.

Basically, they are the same story, told in another country, another age, another religion, another belief.

The Kallikantzaroi, is one such story, which has become a Greek Christmas tradition

Kallikantzaroi, plural (Kallikantzaros singular) are mischievous Greek goblins, elves or gnomes, that appear during the twelve days of Christmas, from the end of December until Epiphany, January sixth.

These twelve days are also known as the winter solstice, and, in medieval times, yule or yuletide.


Kallikantzaros-Greek Christmas goblinKallikantzaros-Greek Christmas goblin

Kallikantzaros-Greek Christmas goblin


Kallikantzaroi are said to be small, black and male, mostly blind, with long black tails.

They speak with a lisp and eat small creatures, such as, worms, snails and frogs.

They only come out at night, and, are afraid of the sun, fire and holy water.

The rest of the year, they live at the center of the Earth, where, they spend their time, chopping down The World Tree, or The Tree Of Life, that holds up the World, using a large saw.


Kallikantzaroi, cutting down The World TreeKallikantzaroi, cutting down The World Tree

Kallikantzaroi, cutting down The World Tree


At the beginning of the twelve days of Christmas, also the winter solstice, when the sun will not move again, until, sixth of January, Kallikantzaroi come up to the surface of the Earth, where, they cause all sorts of trouble and mischief.

Rather than being evil demons, they are considered impish and stupid.

They come out of hiding at night, to enter houses; anyway they can, through windows, down chimneys, through keyholes, and any cracks that they may find, in walls and around doors.

Once inside they cause havoc.


Mischievous KallinkantzaroiMischievous Kallinkantzaroi

Mischievous Kallinkantzaroi


It is said, that if you leave a colander on your doorstep, at night, the Kallikantzaroi, who can only count to two, and consider the number three holy, and will kill themselves, before pronouncing it, will spend all night, counting the holes.

They only ever reach the number two, and start again, so as not to utter the word; three!

At sunrise, they disappear.

Another form of protection is to mark your door with a black cross, on Christmas Eve.

Yet another, is to burn a smelly shoe on the fire, the foul smell will keep them away!

Now here is an interesting bit:

To stop the kallikantzaroi from coming down the chimney, a very large log is found and burnt for twelve days, until the sixth of January, when the Kallikantzaroi will go back to the centre of the Earth.

This ties in with the Norse tradition of Yuletide, the Yule log, burnt for the duration of the winter solstice, until the sun is on the move again!


Yule logYule log

Yule log


In Greek folklore, the kallikantzaroi, disappear on the sixth of January, Epiphany, when Greek priests, go through all the houses, blessing them, with holy water, splashed around with a bunch of fresh basil.


Greek priest, EpiphanyGreek priest, Epiphany

Greek priest, Epiphany


As you can see, in some cultures, the goblins, or kallikantzaroi, disappear because of  the movement of the sun on the sixth of January, (Remember, they don’t like the sun) or, as in Greece, on the same day, Epiphany, when holy water, which they are afraid of, is being splashed around.

I strongly suspect, these kallikantzaroi, are the same goblins, or elves, that help  Santa Claus at Christmas, SAINT NICHOLAS, and what about the mischievous little leprechauns, of Irish folklore?
Are they all connected?

I shall have to look into that!


Christmas elvesChristmas elves

Christmas elves


By the way, when the Kallikantzaroi arrive back, at the centre of the Earth, they find that The World Tree has fully grown again, out comes their large saw, and they start to chop it down, all over again.


 World Tree, or, Tree of Life World Tree, or, Tree of Life

World Tree, or, Tree of Life


Until next year!


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