From BBC News, Bogeymen: Five Scary Visitors in the Night by Lucy Proctor describes some little known, scary alternatives to the gift-giving Santa Claus, such as the Gryla from Iceland:
"Her story goes back to pagan times, but in more recent centuries she has
become part of Christmas - making the trip down to the towns and cities,
searching for naughty children.
And Zwarte Piet from the Netherlands:
"Until the 19th Century, Sinterklaas did his own dirty work, bringing good
children presents, but taking bad ones away in his sack for re-education and a
But in 1850, children's author Jan Schenkman drew him with a black servant, who
later became known as Zwarte Piet. It is now Zwarte Piet's job to go down the
chimney to deliver presents and catch the less fortunate children."
It's a fun, quick read with some surprising information-although maybe less surprising if you're already familiar with the dark side of folklore and how it has become more and more tamed over the years.