Christmas In Ritual & Tradition - online book

The Observance Of Christmas In Various Lands And Ages.

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taken by Allatius, who says that a Kallikantzaros has all the characteristics of nightmare, rampaging abroad and jumping on men's shoulders, then leaving them half senseless on the ground." 7Z
Such theories are ingenious and suggestive, and may be true to a certain degree, but they hardly cover all the facts. It is possible that the Kallikantzaroi may have some connection with the departed ; they certainly appear akin to the modern Greek and Slavonic vampire, " a corpse imbued with a kind of half-life," and with eyes gleaming like live coals.73 They are, however, even more closely related to the werewolf, a man who is supposed to change into a wolf and go about ravening. It is to be noted that "man-wolves" (XvnavSpwrroi) is the very name given to the Kallikantzaroi in southern Greece, and that the word Kallikantzaros itself has been conjecturally derived by Bernhard Schmidt from two Turkish words meaning " black " and " werewolf." 74 The connection between Christmas and werewolves is not confined to Greece. According to a belief not yet extinct in the north and east of Germany, even where the real animals have long ago been extirpated, children born during the Twelve Nights become were­wolves, while in Livonia and Poland that period is the special season for the werewolf's ravenings.75
Perhaps on no question connected with primitive religion is there more uncertainty than on the ideas of early man about the nature of animals and their relation to himself and the world. When we meet with half-animal, half-human beings we must be prepared to find much that is obscure.
With the Kallikantzaroi may be compared some goblins of the Celtic imagination ; especially like is the Manx Fynnodderee (lit. " the hairy-dun one "), " something between a man and a beast, being covered with black shaggy hair and having fiery eyes," and prodigiously strong.76 The Russian Domovy or house-spirit is also a hirsute creature,77 and the Russian Ljeschi, goat-footed woodland sprites, are, like the Kallikantzaroi, supposed to be got rid of by the "Blessing of the Waters" at the Epiphany.78 Some of the monstrous German figures already dealt with here
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