The internet can bring together people from the most distant corners of the globe. And each of those vastly different regions brings its own history, legends, and mythology.
One Reddit thread took a very focused approach to shared cultural norms, asking for the creepiest old legends that abound in each place.
Some common themes cropped up: animals are NOT to be tampered with, night time is extremely dangerous, especially if you're a child, and things shift their shape almost constantly.
In fact, as one reads the rapid-fire list of all these different legends, the convenient functional elements of such stories began to show clearer. Scary myths are apparently a heck of a way to encourage people to obey certain rules and expectations.
isuwiq asked, "What are some creepy stories from your culture?"
Mandatory Nap Time
J"asy Jatere: he's a blond, beautiful dwarf that goes around naked in the woods. He owns a golden stick that provides him with magical powers. He kidnaps the kids that don't sleep in the afternoon (around 2 PM to 4 PM here) and IF he returns them, they're often deaf or mute."
For Those Excited Christmas Eve Nights
"Maran: A woman born on Friday the 25th of December, she sneaks in to your room at night and kills you, but she has some OCD of sorts and you can fend her of if by leaving a pile of cow hair on your window sill, she'll have to count them all which hopefully leaves you with enough time to wake up."
"Näcken: A man that sits by a body of water (usually rivers) and plays his violin to lure children in to the water."
Frats: Listen Up!
"Don't look up trees when you are out walking at night. A virgin ghost that will suck the life out of you sits up there waiting for you to look up."
"When a person is asleep, their soul leaves their body. If you paint or draw on a sleeping person's face, their soul will not recognize them and be unable to jump back into the body."
A Mythological Solution to a Nuisance
"People in my town spoke of Deer Woman. Origin story differs but I was told a woman was killed and buried on top of a deer. She would chase people at night and was known to harass motorcycle riders, even going so far as to jump onto the back and ride along while laughing hysterically."
"There's an old bridge on the outside of town and she was especially known to haunt the area around it."
Search in Silence
"Trinidad and Tobago, West Indies. Some Caribbean folklore:"
"Douens- the souls of children who have died before they were baptized. They are doomed to roam the earth forever. They are seen playing in forests and near rivers and they have no faces and their feet are turned backwards."
"They may approach children and lead them astray in the forest until they are lost, or they may come near people's houses at night, crying and whimpering."
"To prevent the Douens from calling your children into the forest at dusk, never shout their names in open places, as the Douens will take their names, call them and lure them away."
Beware of Whale
"化鯨 (Bake-Kujira) - or "Ghost Whale" a huge ghost-like whale skeleton that is followed by a flock of birds or fish. They appear on rainy nights near the coastal whale villages. Scaring and placing a curse on anyone who sees it. The curse would bring Famine, Plague fire and all various kinds of disasters to the village that sees it.
"絡新婦 (Jorougumo) - in Japanese Folklore, this is a magical, 400 year old giant spider. That can change its appearance into a beautiful women. She will seduce young handsome men, wrap them up in her web and eats them!"
More Forest Issues
"Spearfinger, would kill anyone who wondered into the forest alone, by stabbing them through the neck with her spear shaped finger (whodathunkit?) and then eat their livers. She would then shape-shift into her victim's likeness to gain access to the village and would then kill the family of her original victim, also eating their livers."
Can't Tell if This One Keeps People Away or Draws Them In
"The drummer boy (Edinburgh). The story says one the government found a tunnel that was too small for a fully grown man to go down, so they sent a boy with drums and told him to walk down the tunnel and keep drumming. They followed the sound of the drums and at one point it stopped."
"The boy never returned. Some people say that if you stand in the right place you can still hear the drums."
"Crazy Long Arms"
"There is a Hmong ghost story about an old couple where the old woman thought that her husband was stroking her hair at night."
NOPE. It was a weird a** creature with CRAZY long arms that was reaching through their window at night. They never saw the whole creature, JUST the long ass arm reaching through the window and stretching waaaaaaay off into the forest."
"That's why you shouldn't put the head of your bed near the window."
A Ghastly Blob
"In Oxfordshire (UK) there's a fairly obscure creature of legend called the Boneless. It's purported to be a sort of protoplasmic blob that ambushes and suffocates travelers on lonely paths."
"Damn thing made me scared to walk to and from the bus stop (it was a rural area by British standards; I had to walk across a few fields and through a woodland to get there from home), for nigh on a decade of my childhood."
"Small town in upstate NY. There used to be a train station there, back when people actually took passenger trains anywhere in rural areas. Fairly well-off guy, well-known in town, comes racing into the station, right before midnight."
"Seconds later, a huge, old-fashioned, jet-black train with nobody aboard - I mean nobody - rolls into the station. No schedule shows a train arriving for another hour, but there it is. Guy runs through the booth and jumps onto the train. Train rolls off into the night."
"Nobody ever saw him again."
Beware the Old Lady
"Soucouyant - a person (typically an old lady, also heard lots of stores about this growing up) who has made a pact with the devil to be able to change herself into all kinds of different forms."
"At night she sheds her human skin and changes into a ball of fire and quickly flies around, sitting on tree branches, burning singular trees in fields and leaving others untouched."
"She has to slip back into that skin before dawn breaks and the cock crows, otherwise she will not be able to get back into it."
"When people suspect that an old woman neighbour of theirs is a soucouyant, they go to her house at night and rub salt on her human skin so that it will shrink and she will not be able to get back into it and thus die."
"There is a mythical creature here in the Philippines called the "mananangal" which is said to be like a normal person during day and a terrifying creature with bat wings and a long tongue whose upper torso is split from its lower torso and is said to eat the fetus from a pregnant lady using said long tongue."
"The only way to kill it is to find its lower half that vanishes during the night."
A Different Kind of Hell
"The Jewish conception of hell isn't punishment based, it's more like a celestial car wash for your soul. You are purified until your soul is fresh and new, and then you go to heaven."
"But there are some people who are so evil, no amount of scraping will ever remove the black stuff. THEN there are those who are even denied the chance at hell."
"They get sent to earth in a spiritual form, chased and tormented by angels for all eternity. Unless they possess someone. This is what's known as a dybbuk."
"The Choking Ghost. If you visit a graveyard or sacred site, you're liable to be followed home by a spirit. Maybe you were being disrespectful, or maybe you just crossed paths with a bad spirit. They follow you, stay with you, and wait for you to sleep."
"That night, they'll choke you in your sleep. You'll be awakened in the night, paralyzed and suffocating. But it's just a warning, they'll let you breath after you've gotten the message. You'll find red hand and finger marks on your throat where the ghost held you."
"I've personally never been visited, but I have several friends who have. Hawaii can get pretty humid, so the "ghost" is generally dismissed as a form of humidity-induced sleep paralysis. But the hand marks on their necks in the mirror are hard to explain."
One Cultural, One Familial
"Not exactly a story but in many Asian cultures you are never allowed to put chopsticks in your tea because it looks like incense and symbolizes death. Also avoid the number 4 at all costs but that might just be my grandfather being weird..."
"The Wendigo. Life for the First Nations was tough dealing with disease, European settlers, and much more but the winter is the toughest for them because they cant grow any food so families without any food would starve."
"That is when Wendigos make their moves possessing one of the starving people and making them satisfy its craving for human flesh but it is always hungry once a human has eaten another human they turn into Wendigos they are normal during the spring summer and fall but once winter arrives that's when the craving begins."
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