The Fright Before Christmas Explores the Dark Side of America’s Biggest Holiday
Jeff Belanger’s new book is the first to tell the frightening and monster-and ghost-filled story of Christmas through millenia of history, folklore, and legends.
NEWBURYPORT, MA, SEPTEMBER 28, 2023 — Red Wheel/Weiser, LCC today announced the publication of Jeff Belanger’s latest book, The Fright Before Christmas: Surviving Krampus and Other Yuletide Monsters. After hanging up outdoor decorations at his home one cold December morning, Belanger grew frustrated with his frigid fingers and half-working strings of holiday lights and began asking himself questions: Why do we put wreaths on our doors? Why the lights? Why the Christmas tree? Why Santa? Why do we expend so much money and stress on this one day? How did we get to this point of commercialism and humbug-iness?
“Those questions led me down a deep and dark rabbit hole that took me through many countries, times, and cultures,” said Fright Before Christmas author Jeff Belanger. “The origins of this holiday are anchored to the Winter Solstice—a dark, cold, and dangerous time of year depending on where you live. In that icy darkness, monsters and ghosts are hunting us. Throughout my 25-year career, people have mostly known me as a Halloween person. I’m here to tell you that Halloween is the second-most frightening holiday behind Christmas.”
From the Winter Solstice to Saturnalia to Yule to Christmas, Belanger’s book traces the origins, customs, and monsters of the yuletide season. Austria’s Krampus may be the most well-known of the monsters, but it turns out Saint Nicholas has many other cohorts. Germany’s Belsnickel is coming to whip naughty children before the holidays, Grýla from Iceland is descending the mountains to devour lost kids, Père Fouettard from France is coming to beat the bad out of little brats, and the shape-shifting Karakoncolos from Bulgaria is trying to get into your home just to name a few. Almost every European country has its own version of these monsters and ghosts who are ultimately trying to save us from ruin.
In addition to illustrating the monsters and ghosts of the holidays, The Fright Before Christmas explores Christianity’s long-standing war on Christmas, plus the timeline and origins of Santa Claus.
“If you need someone to show you the Christmas spirit, who better than an author best known for ghosts and the paranormal?” said Michael Pye, Associate Publisher at Red Wheel/Weiser. “One of my favorite movies is Tim Burton’s Nightmare Before Christmas. There’s a long debate as to whether it’s a Halloween story or Christmas story. Those of us who love it are happy to watch from October through January. I’m shelving my copy of The Fright Before Christmas right next to that movie.”
The Fright Before Christmas: Surviving Krampus and Other Yuletide Monsters is Belanger’s 16th published book. It’s now available as a full-color hardcover book, e-book, and audiobook narrated by the author.
Belanger will also be providing a series of live multi-media programs based on his new book for libraries, theaters, corporations, and other venues in the coming months. Visit his Web site for a complete listing.
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About Jeff Belanger
Jeff Belanger (jeffbelanger.com) is an author, adventurer, journalist, and one of the most visible explorers of the unexplained. He is also the Emmy-nominated host, writer, and producer of the New England Legends series on PBS and the weekly New England Legends podcast. He’s been a guest on hundreds of television and radio networks and programs, including History, Travel Channel, Biography Channel, PBS, CBS Sunday Morning, NPR, BBC, and Coast to Coast AM. Jeff lives near Boston, Massachusetts.
About Red Wheel/Weiser
Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC (RWW) is an independent publisher specializing in “Books to Live By.” The company’s books serve to expand the mind, heal the body, and nurture the spirit. Imprints include: Weiser Books, the premier publisher of occult and esoterica since 1957, and New Page Books, offering well-researched books on Alternative History, Paranormal, UFOs, Ancient Mysteries, and Unexplained Phenomena. RWW is also a full-service distributor for select independent publishers.