Christmas taught most of us that it was acceptable for an odd stranger to invade our home and demonstrate unusual knowledge of our family. But there are far more terrifying strangers than old St. Nick. This classic Lore episode has been updated with fresh narration and production, and a brand new story at the end.
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This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
folk lorries are living thing.
In many ways. The stories we tell and the lessons we pass on are like a tree. There are branches that reach out into generations and cultures, sometimes in obvious ways and other times, reaching surprising new places. One good example of this would be the folklore surrounding small fairy people that we discussed here before
watch is trolls, goblins poker and dozens of similar variations are scattered around the world, with amazing consistency and reach. How or why is something will probably never know, but it shows us how folklore can spread, how it can migrate in how it can build upon the past,
At the same time, though, folklore also has roots, and they run,
for then. We might expect some stories that we still whisper about in the dark today have crossed the lips of people for centuries and in some cases millennia. When I
a story for the first time or discover a new collection of tales that have been widely distributed. I often stop and ask myself the same questions. Where did it come from what lies at the bottom of the narrative? What are its roots
outside of Halloween. There is no other time of the year, at least for european cultures, where folklore rushes to the forefront of everyone's lives, with such significance such power and such ease as the Christmas season, and rightly so. There is so much to unpack and explore the tree. The gifts,
the food and the nocturnal visit from a stranger one, who has seemingly stalked our lives all year long, and yet we blindingly welcome into our home
if there's one lesson that folklore has taught us over the centuries, it's to beware of strangers, because they aren't always who they seem to be.
I'm Aaron Erin, and this is Laura.
when we think of coal in our stockings and food and drink
out for a visitor. We rarely pair those ideas with the image of a woman flying through the air on a broomstick, but in ITALY there are those who still tell the story of law the funny, but funny story has been told since at least the thirteenth century originally connected with the christian feast of a penny. But while many people have never heard of her, the details of her story are eerily familiar during her visit but finally said to enter homes,
Through the chimney, she is typically depicted carrying a basket or bag full of gifts, but is also known to leave behind a lump of coal or a single stick for children who failed to behave during the year before leaving each home. Bafana would sweep the floor
her broom, something scholar see as a metaphor for sweeping away the deeds of the previous year, and then she would eat the food left out for her oftentimes a meal of sausage end broccoli. Aside note cookies and milk sound so much better, don't they
Interestingly enough Buffon, it is not the only Christmas legend with a passing resemblance to a which, in the German Alps, there
been stories of another female figure dating back to the tenth century. Some call her perker or burka and later Bertha Jacob Grim, while researching his deutsche myth,
Ecology, theorize that she was one of the ancient germanic mother, goddesses. She and her sisters were said to have taught humanity, the art of agriculture, spinning wool and cooking overtime,
Her legend began to integrate into parts of the Christmas season because of her
in teaching humanity the basics of home management perked as meaning began to shift over the centuries
Turning her into the punisher of those who worked during the holidays failed to feast properly, then much later, hunting down the lazy and what better time for her to conduct an end of year review so to speak than Christmas. Just how did perked it dish out her punishment?
People of Germany well, a hint can be found in her other popular title, the belly slitter. During the twelve days of Christmas. She would travel through the towns and inspect people's behavior if they had followed the rules and done right in her eyes, they were rewarded if they had not been good, though
She was known to have a very nasty side. Anyone disobedient enough to warrant punishment, adult or child alike, would have their stomachs ripped, open, perked up with.
But whatever might still be inside, pull out the full length of their intestines and then stuff the victims belly with garbage straw and rocks now, while a stomach full of refuge might seem
little over the top. That distinction actually goes to another ancient female in folklore, while stories of guerrilla the mythical giant goddess are our:
outside the common narrative of Christmas. For many of us for the people of Iceland, she is still a whispered source of dread among children,
one of the earliest mentions of Greeley dates back to the 13th century, collection of icelandic mythology, known as the Edda written by Snore Easter.
And, according to the many stories told about her over the centuries guerrilla, possesses the ability to locate disobedient children. She can do
year round, so they say and because of that she was off
used as a parental tool to coerce children into doing what they were told. It was in the Christmas season, though, that.
they became even more monstrous. That
when she was said to climb out of her home in the mountain and make her way toward the towns, she would hunt far and wide for all the naughty children and then take them back to her cave there. She would cut them up place them in her stew and devour them. According to the legend, she never ran out of food
There have been other stories of strangers told throughout the centuries, but not all, have happy endings. In fact, there is often more loss than gain when it comes to the visits of some of these legends in northern Alps stories have been told, for
actions about the travelling stranger known as belts nickel, consider to be one of the helpers of Saint Nicholas
nickel travels ahead of the big red man and dispenses his own form of Christmas cheer with physical abuse, disco.
Since a bell Snick alike, in him to the wild men of old, with torn and Gertie close
it's fashioned from animal skins and furs and a face that is covered in a startled filthy beard. Some stories report that he wears a mask with a long tongue protruding from the mouth.
According to the legend which spans centuries in both Germany and the american State of Pennsylvania, Bausch nickel would enter the home of a family
and scatter nuts and sweets on the floor for the children to collect and then with their backs to him. He would lash out with a switch made of hazel or birch whipping their backs and leaving red
and thus nickel isn't alone another travelling,
stranger from the same region, one who has
in a rise in popularity around the globe. Is a creature,
only as Krampus at first blush
a sound similar to many of the other strangers in folklore around Europe. But what sets him apart is truly frightening. It is said that crap s visits the homes of children during the Christmas season, but he doesn't have a dual nature: there's no reward or a special tree
when Krampus comes to town know his sole purpose and passion in life is to dole out punishment on children who have failed to obey and do their work like belch nickel. He to carry
a switch, but most stories there are more than one. Apparently he beats. So
the children that he needs a few spare branches, so he carries them in a bundle. In addition, he is often depicted wearing chains and some form of large sack or cart, because, ultimately, cramp us is an interested in beating chow
when he wants to take them when he arrives in each legend, we are greeted by the appearance of a wild, demonic creature, with long horns, Cloven feet and a twisted face,
Your beating the disobedient children, Kravis chains them up tosses them into his sack before vanishing as quickly as he came. Taking the children back with him to Hell. The origins of crap is are still unclear, but some scholars think that the legend predates Christianity. Instead, they believe that the story has roots in an ancient alpine myth of a horned god of the witches,
even the switch. His weapon of choice might have been a carry over from the initiation. Rights of witches were the novices were beaten and whipped. Far from forgotten festivals are held throughout Europe. To this day that feature many of these legends events like crops knocked in Germany and the Buffon, a festival in or banya attract tens of thousands who dress in masks and dance and celebrate like Halloween. These are instances where monsters and strangers have been embraced and elevated to something about children story, which is Iraq. When you
understand the roots stripping away the details. Crop us has, from a thirty thousand foot view more than a passing resemblance to pan the Greek Horned, God of Nature, shepherds flocks and mountains, along with his meal.
go. Flutes. Pan was also known for robbing the innocence from people usually through sexual means, in a culture that saw the threshold between childhood and adulthood as the loss of virginity pan figuratively stole people's children and when you think of it, that way, it's more than easy to see similarities not only between crap, us and PAN, but between pan and a character that Disney has helped us off.
in love with Peter PAN, while he might be able to fly, has no horns and is missing. The cloven feet that pan sports in every image and statue Peter PAN fulfils the role perfectly he arrives at night. Carries a flute and lures are children away to another.
it's a modern story with a familiar ending, but it was far from the first of its kind that honor according to some falls to a small german village in one thousand two hundred and eighty four, you might already know the story, but the truth behind it is far worse than you'd ever expect
The in twelve eighty four
the german village of Hamelin, was struggling with an infestation of rats. Now
I've only seen a few rats myself over the years, but I also don't live in a densely populated urban area like New York, city or London, but in medieval
from what I can gather, rats were as abundant as squirrels. Only bigger and more disease ridden.
It's hard to imagine the impact that an infestation of rats could have on a town today. If we found out half eaten bag of flour in the cupboard, there's, a grocery store down the street, where we can get more year round, but in the
ages. Food was grown locally and used throughout the year. If rats, eight and ruined the food supply there was little, a town could do. Rats meant death in many instances.
According to the story that has been passed down through the centuries since then, a stranger entered him,
in the spring of twelve eighty four he was dressed in colorful clothing possessed what we might call today, a silver tongue,
and claimed of having a very unusual and also timely skill. He was a rat catcher as a profession, rat catching dates back centuries, but it's rarely been a safe and sanitary job. The risk of being bitten or contracting some disease carried by the rats has always been a hazard for the job and while the exact nature of their involvement has been up for debate for decades, most scholars agree that rats have been a key player in the spread of plague, particularly the black death of the fourteenth century, and there were few truly effective tools at their disposal which made the job that much more difficult. Some rat catchers used a special breed of Terrier,
while others made use of traps, but the most effective tool for centuries was the most minimal and inexpensive of them. All bare hands and seeing as how most rats preferred to stay hidden inside dark places. This was a risky technique.
The motivation, though, was the meritocracy of it all the more you caught the more you earned, and while there is no documented proof of this rumour, it has been whispered for centuries. That rat catchers would sometimes race
their own rats in captivity and then turn them in as part of a job inflating the numbers this allowed them to pad their paychecks when business was low, but it also earned them a shady reputation as a side note one of them.
the famous rat catchers in London's history was a man named Jack Black who claimed that his black TAN terrier was the father of all the black TAN terriers in London and who pioneered the art of breeding rats and keeping them
pets even wore an outfit made entirely of scarlet cloth with a big wide sash across his chest that had to cast iron rats on it. He was probably also a riot at parties, but I can't confirm that it's just
the hunch, the man who walked into Heymann that June, wasn't any less of a character if the legends are to be believed. He wore and now rageous outfits, although his
the report of the one of multi colored fabric. That was known back then as Pied, which was typically a sort of blatchy pattern, and he carried a tool that no Ratcatcher claim to use a flute. The mayor of Hamlet trusted,
man. Maybe it was the not so subtle illusion. His appearance made to the ancient stories of the God PAN a deity who tended flocks of animals and played a flute. Maybe it was the man's marketing ability that silver tongue and outrageous outfit, perhaps he over promised and won the mayor's approval. Whatever the reason this stranger was said to have struck a deal, he would come
all the rats in town he told the mare he would lead them out of town and away from their lives, and he would do this with his musical instrument, a pipe that he claimed with lure them away. Now I don't know about you, but I would have been skeptical the mayor, though, while he was desperate sure they haggled over the price, but in the end, the stranger one, the exact amount of money.
it differs from version to version of the story, but in all of them it's an exorbitant sum and that's the point. Hamlin was
desperate. They were willing to over pay for a solution, and then he got to work according to all the stories and even the children's tales we were raised on the piper picked up his flutes and began to play as if driven by some magical force, all of the rats in Hamlet, scuttled out of their hiding places and began to cry
around him streams of them, thousands of them all writhing in a mass at his feet, then
It seemed like they had all come out. He marched out of town and down to the Visa River
the stories say that he was beyond successful. Most account say that all but one of
rats drown in the river that day havens troubles were over before, while you see the
IP return later to collect his money. He had done that
job they had hired him to perform. The rats were gone.
for some unknown reason: the mayor refused to pay him the stories. Don't say why, but we can speculate. Maybe it was because the stranger didn't return with any of the bodies to show for his work, as was the custom for rat catchers. How could they pay him per head when there
no heads to count. At any rate, the mayor turn the stranger away and the man clearly taken advantage of stormed out of the village, but not before turning to face the people of Hamlet and proclaiming a curse on them. He would return one day he said and when he did, he would
have his revenge. Remember. This is a story. That's been passed down for over eight hundred years. Most of what we know about
real events is pure legend based loosely on scattered reports of a stained glass window in the church there in Hamlin, the window itself was lost in one thousand six hundred and sixty, but there are drawings of it that predate the destruction. As far back as the fourteenth century and the earliest mention of these events is a one thousand three hundred and eighty four entry in the Hanlontown chronicles. The events were recorded, of course,
because the stranger did return. According to the story, though, he had changed his clothing trading in his colorful robes, for the uniform of a hunter gone was the salesman. The stranger was back for vengeance.
While the adults we're all in church on June, twenty sixth, the stranger strode into town and began to play his flute again this time, rather than crowds of writing rats. It was the children who clambered out of the house
as they flooded the streets gathering around the strange visitor and then when they were all present, he marched them out of town, never to be seen again. There are, of course, a number of morals to the story, but one that has stuck with us for centuries remains ever true, never trust a stranger.
Folklore is full of strangers in many stories. It's flat out, amazing, just how much freedom people have given them in their lives. Even stories of some
as benign as Santa Claus have an element of danger when you view them from outside the cultural fishbowl. Here's a story of
strange man who stalks our children year round, noting their behavior and secret desires, who then breaks into our home, eats our food and leaves a few presents to prove
was there for the people of Hamlet, though, that stranger cost them far more than a plate of cookies. Their ill treatment of the man who came to town led them to the loss of their children and as difficult as it is to believe. The story of homeland is true.
Part of it at least. Scholars are in. Agreement of the rats were a later addition to the tail showing up about three hundred years after the events were said to have taken place, but as far back as the records go, there has always been a stranger, a visitor from the outside, who leaves with the children, and although it's taking a very long time to figure out why some historians think they have the answer to understand the truth. They say we have to understand the political culture that hangeland found itself in in one thousand two hundred and twenty seven about fifty years before the events in Hamlin a battle took place on the border between what was then the holy Roman Empire and Denmark pushing the danish border north of modern Day Germany. As a result, a whole new territory opened up that needed colonists. Men called locators were assigned to travel the land and find volunteers to populate this new territory. They often wore colorful clothing. They were eloquent speakers. They were in
It's a lot like today's door to door salesman, the empire needed farmers and craftsmen and soldiers to protect these new lands. But it was hard to find people willing to uproot their lives and travel north, especially when that new land was alongside a contested military heavy border. It was a hard sell.
The locators came, knocking rather than shipping off a
full of adult volunteers. The townsfolk would sometimes get creative
pain with their own lives. He would sell their children to these men. The proof it turns out is in the phone book and on Google map.
many town names along the line between Hamlin and Poland, bear a striking resemblance to town names from Medieval Germany,
often times, even showing up more than once more compelling surnames from the one thousand two hundred and eighty four Hanlontown records still show up in phone books in Pomerania, a region of Poland along the Baltic Sea. The folklore Missy tell Zack
wonderful story, one, that's as easy for children to swallow as a spoonful of honey, but the truth that the story hides turns out to be far less palatable. An entire town, desperate for a solution to their economic and social challenges, actually sold their children off to recruiters, hoping to
is new lands? It's a plot reminiscent of M night Shyamalan's, the village, in that these people constructed a fantasy around certain events and then passed that lie on to later generations in order to justify their actions and avoid questions in the end. An outsider did indeed come to Hainlen that day, but he wasn't the one who took the children know it turns out that the true monsters were already there living in the house next door shopping in the market, farming in the fields, the most dangerous stranger, it seems, isn't the outsider. It's the one who hides among us.
History is full of stories of mysterious strangers and, while men,
of them can be found in Christmas folklore. I hope that the tale of the village of Hamelin shows just how common they are in everyday life and, as you might have guessed, I have another favorite example set aside to share with you stick around through this brief sponsor break to hear all about it.
I'm going to be very upfront with you from the start. No one knows who he was, we don't know his name or where he came from, and we certainly don't know the purpose behind his,
very unusual very extraordinary life. All we have are stories
if you lived in a small section of New England during the three decades between eighteen slash, fifty eight and one thousand eight hundred and eighty nine- you might have seen him pass by at the very least you
heard the murmurs that rippled through your community in the aftermath of his visit. But by then it would be too late because
He was often gone as quickly as he'd shown up. There were rumors, of course,
some said he was a french exile forced to live and travel in America. Why
Well, it was rumored that his English was pretty poor, but he could often be heard speaking in French, but I most of the rare
agents that he actually interacted with locals. He used grunts and broad gestures instead of words, perhaps because that's what felt most natural to him like I said we don't know his name, but this mysterious stranger was witnessed by enough people that we can at least paint a compelling picture of what it might have
and like to encounter him there's even a photograph and when the story is over, you can go and look for it. But let me warn you
in him will do nothing to answer the riddle of who he was. All you can count on is being unsettled. He walked everywhere. He went despite the prevalence of horses in his day. Roughly his route is documented as a loop that passed through Danbury Connecticut before heading west to white plains, New York, that it was northward to Brewster EAST to New Britain and then back south again, one big loop, roughly three hundred sixty five miles of walking every time he completed a store
He simply started up a new one over and over again for thirty one years and all of it done with the same outfit on the one that earn
the only name. We have to identify him. Leather man, it's not the most creative of nicknames. To be honest, but thanks to his leather coats, leather boots, leather,
well, everything and lack of any other identifying features it's the best. His contemporaries could do. Of course, there are all sorts of stories about him, but they were nothing
more than legends. Some said he was a roman Catholic because they thought they noticed. He avoided eating meat on Fridays. Others said of french prayer book was found among his possessions after he died and, of course, there were legends of treasure to
because here was a guy who walked in a massive three hundred and sixty five mile loop without stopping for three decades
pay for food along the way people assumed that he would have
I have a small fortune hidden away in one of the many caves that he used as a waist up. But of course no one has ever found that imaginary treasure.
after his body was found in eighteen, eighty, nine in a cave outside the town of Mount Pleasant, New York, he was buried
nearby by arson.
In two thousand eleven his grave was opened and all remains of his burial were moved to a new site that was farther from the nearby highway. The hope was that they might find some genetic material that could be analyzed, but they managed to dig up where coffin nails,
Leather man might now be passing through towns today, but his story still makes the rounds if you
ever heard the nineteen. Ninety eight pearl jam song of the same name. Now you know the backstory behind it, a mysterious stream
on an unusual journey who wore a trail through the
culture of New England. So deep that it's still visible today, any of us would be lucky to do the same
This episode of Lore was researched, written and produced by me. Aaron Mangy, with music by Chad. Lawson Lore is much more than just a podcast there's a book series available in bookstores
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Transcript generated on 2022-03-29.