‘Twas the Wednesday before Christmas….
From Illzach: The Beast of the Wednesday Before Christmas (oral tradition, recorded in the Revue des traditions populaires, 1901)
This phantom animal is the size of a year-old calf; its eyes glow like lightning and are as big as window panes. The creature arrives the Wednesday before Christmas to call out to its chosen victims by their names. Anyone who answers the monster’s call falls under its power and is immediately overcome. Its victims are usually the children born in this generation; at night it compels them to make a great racket so their parents no longer love them. These children are then in constant liaison with infernal spirits, and it is a sorrow for no one when–as is very often the case–they die prematurely.
This monster, as well as the vampire specter and the phantom donkey of Illzach, are local ghosts. It is especially at the approach of the Advent and Christmas that their power comes into its own.
The Donkey of the Village (oral tradition, recorded in the Revue des traditions populaires, 1901 )
One night an inhabitant of Illzach was passing by the church with his young son. Suddenly the child, whom he held by the hand, became anxious and turned his head away from the shadow cast by a neighboring house. “What’s wrong with you?” demanded the father. “Keep walking!”
The child began to shriek, “Father, don’t you see the tall man on the village donkey’s back? He’s coming closer–he’s grabbing my hand!”
“Foolishness!” said the father. “I don’t see anything; let’s go, it’s late.”
He pulled his son to the side, but the child became still more anxious, and clutching his father’s leg, exclaimed, “Both of you let me go! Let go of my arm!” The father, although he did not see what was distressing his son, began to tremble. He took his son in his arms and ran home where the child remained bedridden for several days with a high fever.
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