The Christmas legend of Hans Trapp is based on a real German knight, and begins with a wealthy man stealing people’s money and partying so hard that the pope ex-communicates him. The story goes that Trapp then sells his soul to the devil to pursue a life of sin, which naturally forces him into a hobby of eating human flesh, as one is known to do.
Banished from society for being one creepy mofo, he lived in the woods and dressed as a scarecrow, stuffing straw into his clothes and at times wearing a black cloak. He spends his time trying to lure children into the woods to eat them.
One day after roasting a shepherd boy over a fire (or just getting ready to, the legend goes back and forth on this one), God decided enough was enough and struck him down with a lightning bolt that split his head open.
But that didn’t stop this cannibal – he got a new gig helping St. Nick out by keeping naughty kids in line.
This terrifying Boogeyman of Christmas is said to scare or punish children in the Alsace and Lorraine regions of France to this day. Some accounts of Hans Trapp paint him in a rosier light, saying he regrets his life of sin. In these versions, he visits misbehaving children dressed as a scarecrow and tries to persuade to be more virtuous than he was, usually by scaring them into it.
But other stories, in classic creepy Christmas fashion, say he goes around marking children he wants to eat on Christmas Eve.
The German knight this legend is based on was named Hans Von Trotha and was born in 1450. Apparently he didn’t really do any of this stuff except get into a war against an abbey, which led to him being ex-communicated by the Pope. But who really cares about those pesky details when you can just scare the crap out of your kids on Christmas instead?