The story behind the transition from Saint Nicholas to Santa Claus is one that includes murder, priest-punching, and ominous, demonic-looking companions. This episode looks at the legends behind an austere bishop who has been transformed into a magical, portly elf.
**Note: as I say in the show, this episode is not for young children. The story of St. Nick includes grisly murders and mentions of prostitution. Listener discretion is advised.**
The creature of the week is another sort of Santa from Spain who, in the old days, eschewed the coal for bad children for a long, deadly scythe.
The final chapter in the story of Theseus, the Minotaur, and all the other people that have gotten swept up in this drama spanning decades. We'll learn exactly what the Delphic Oracle meant by her prophecy, and how you can use a spool of thread to kill a giant monster.
On the creature of the week, it's a very literal tiny dancer.
The story of Daedalus and Icarus is much more than just Icarus flying too close to the sun. Daedalus, the inventor, is directly responsible for the labyrinth and the Minotaur. He's a man whose will to survive and desire for significance drives him to make magnificent things, which only bring death, destruction, and tragedy for him and everyone around him.
On the creature of the week, you'll learn how you can keep a Russian forest-dweller from playing pranks on you. All you have to do is burn his entire forest to the ground.
"Avec Toi" by Dana Boul
"Endless" by Dana Boul
We have all heard the story of Theseus fighting that monstrous half-bull, half-man beast known as the Minotaur, but the original story starts years earlier. It involves tensions between two kingdoms, a deadly poetry slam, and dumb bandits.
The creature of the week is a small chicken that will give you lots of gold...if you can keep it from sitting on you in the middle of the night and giving you nightmares.
An episode of entirely listener-submitted stories! The main story is from South Africa and tells of how a mountain peak got its name from a deadly competition. Deadly because of the cancer risk, but also...well, you'll see.
Then, on the creature of the week, you'll see which household items can repel this ferocious beast and that, wow, koalas make terrifying sounds.
The story of a young woman, her magic doll, and a witch who may be the most terrifying - or the most ridiculous - person you've ever seen. You'll also see that you should definitely not trust a gift from a witch. Especially if that gift is a human skull...that's on fire.
On the creature of the week, if your date has goat hooves it probably will not go well.
In this Russian Fairy Tale from the same collections as the stories of Koschei the Deathless, we find a prince who goes on a quest for the firebird. This leads us into a Russian nesting quest situation, where he ends up on a quest-within-a-quest-within-a-quest. We'll also follow his doofus brothers, who decide that taking an extended camping trip getting drunk in their silk party tents is much better than questing.
On the creature of the week, it's a large horse-headed monster who will push you down or trample you...all while giggling like a child.
The end of the saga of this legendary king has Viking battles, magic cows, and a long con to take over England. Ragnar's poor planning when it comes to cementing his legacy blows up in his face, and we catch up with Aslaug, the daughter of Sigurd and Brynhild, and the atrociously ugly couple that murdered her grandfather.
The creature of the week is a little one-legged boy who grants wishes and has really smelly hair.
People throughout history, before they died, have seen something...strange. They have seen ghostly doubles haunting their steps, foretelling their doom. These things are called doppelgängers, and while they mean something different now - basically someone that looks like you - their folklore origins are something far more ominous and sinister. This episode is about the shadowy creatures of ill omen that follow us all, and the famous historical figures that have seen theirs before they met their end.
The creature of the week is an extended, creepy story of a creature from Japanese folklore, and a solitary priest that became lost in the mountains.
The tale of Ragnar Lodbrok, legendary Viking king and main character of the History Channel series "Vikings" and the many women in his life you absolutely do not want to mess with. It contains Viking battles, murder, betrayal, and heartbreak, uncommonly-ugly peasants, and, of course, a dragon fight.
For the creature of the week, if anyone in the woods calls to you from a bush asking you to stop what you're doing to play a tickle game, you should probably say no. You should definitely say no if it's this long-fingered creature who will literally tickle you to death.
For over 200 years in western Europe, there was a pervasive belief among large portions of the population that the upper classes in society were hiding something - women horribly cursed with the heads of pigs . Not an insult or a metaphor, no, these were women who were thought literally to be pigs from the neck up. Crowds gathered to harass potential pig-faced women and chase their carriages, and they apparently made appearances at fairs. This is an incredibly bizarre series of events that is all but forgotten in the modern day, but bears were shaved, legacies were tarnished, and there were men from an ocean away proposing marriage to a pig-faced woman.
On the creature of the week, it's a bird who can escape from any predator, but after you hear the route it needs to take, you'll wonder if it shouldn't just let itself get caught.
These are two stories from Japanese fairy tales. I don't want to ruin them, so I can't say too much, but they are amazing. One is about a boy who draws pictures of cats, much to the detriment of his job and a ridiculous amount of ancient books. The other story is about a kind fisherman who saves a turtle and has his whole world turned upside down.
On the creature of the week, it's a naked guy who, if he helps you, just thank him and be on your way. Seriously, who cares if he could have cut the grass more? He did it for free, and it's not worth losing your legs over.
Finishing up the twelve labors, Hercules fights way, way too many things: a giant boar, a giant bull, vicious birds, man-eating horses, the three-headed hell hound Cerberus, and more, all as penance for his crime.
The creature of the week are invisible weasel brothers that might give you a small cut or two...or might cut off your legs...all without you feeling it.
The story of Hercules is one part gritty, serious tragedy and two parts over-the-top monster fights. This week, in the origin story of one of the greatest mythological heroes of the western world, we get to see the human side of the demigod before the story goes completely off-the-rails and it's just one big monster fight topping the next. But don't worry, there are also monster fights this episode.
We'll see that Zeus is essentially the Don Draper of the Greek pantheon, only without all that pesky introspection or likability, and that if your husband cheats on you, you should bring down horrible punishments on everyone but him.
On the creature of the week, it's a grotesque little piggy that just needs a hug.