Looking to get a fright? Here are some spooky folklore tales from around the world

·5 min read
Looking to get a fright? Here are some spooky folklore tales from around the world
Looking to get a fright? Here are some spooky folklore tales from around the world

While Halloween in much of North America follows a similar pattern of haunted houses and trick-or-treating, in other parts of the world, spooky folklore stories are more popular.

Some storytellers from across the world shared some of their tales of terror. Check them out below for a delightful fright.

The tale of the Qallupilluit, by Kathy Walsh

From Inuit folklore, the Qallupilluit are mythical sea witches who lure children out onto the ice pans in order to kidnap them, stuffing them into their amautiks — a hooded parka worn by Inuit women — to drag them under the water.

It's a story told to children as a cautionary tale, to keep them off the sea ice to avoid falling into the water, says Kathy Walsh, program co-ordinator at First Light.

Walsh learned it from her friends, who were a little older than her, who had been told the story by their parents. They were heading out to jump the ice pans, and she was worried it wasn't safe.

"They said, 'Don't worry about it. Just don't let the Qallupilluit get you.' And I was like, 'What are you talking about?'" Walsh said.

"I believed that story, and I still believe it to this day.… I went out with them and I stood at the edge of the water on the land just to make sure that they were safe, and I was fully prepared not to save them from falling into the water off the ice pans — but to save them from Qallupilluit that were gonna drag them under."

The story she tells is a vivid dream she had as a young child, after learning about the Qallupilluit.

The Perfect Man, by Rita Uju Onah

Rita Uju Onah grew up in Nigeria and lives in St. John's, where she is a PhD archeology student at Memorial University.

Nigeria has a strong culture of storytelling in its villages, where children in the evenings would gather around a fire for some food and the weaving of a traditional tale to teach them life's lessons.

Onah told such a story one night in St. John's — a cautionary tale called The Perfect Man.

"This story was told to me by my mom, my mom from my grandmother … and that was how it passed from generation to generation."

Sit in as she tells the story of Úlùnma, and what became of her as she sought out The Perfect Man:

Yamamba and The Three Amulets, by Yohei Sakai

In Japan, Yamamba is a widely known evil mountain crone said to eat children. There are multiple stories about Yamamba, the most popular of which, according to Yohei Sakai, is The Three Amulets.

"Yamamba is an old woman who lives deep in the forest or deep in the mountain and they are evil, they eat kids, and I think — this is my assumption — but many people created this type of folk story so that they keep children away from the forest or mountain," Sakai said.

"So I know that there are several different stories about Yamamba, but this is the most famous one."

Sakai said it's such a prominent tale, he can't remember when he first heard it.

The legend of La Llorona, by Mariana Esquival Suarez

It's a story that has been around so long the exact origins are murky, but the legend of La Llorona — or the crying woman — has been prominent in Mexico in some iteration for centuries.

Mariana Esquival Suarez of Mexico City is an international student in her second year of a master's degree of folklore at MUN.

Suarez had gathered stories from people — including family members — all about the legend for her thesis.

"I would say that any Mexican person that you speak to, they are going to have their own versions of La Llorona," she said.

"Any sort of ghost that you'll see in Mexico, especially any sort of female ghost, it's like, oh, you say 'La Llorona' … because she's super-famous — she's a rock star in the supernatural legends of Mexico."

The epic of Kali, by Gaurav Madan

Storyteller Gaurav Madan was born and raised in Dehli, India, and moved to Canada four years ago.

In a story of the creation of the universe, Madan paints a picture of a battle against the demon Raktabija, who gains the ability to clone himself with a drop of his blood before facing the goddess Kali.

"Nearly 7,000 years ago, before cattle-herding people migrated to the fertile plains of the Ganges, a civilization thrived along the river Indus, and thus the origin of the name India. Here, we find clay figures of a dark, naked, bejewelled woman wearing a garland of human skulls, with a long tongue, dripping blood," said Madan.

"The story about this woman finds its origin in India's ancient literature called Puranas and it has evolved over many centuries. So I compiled all the versions, and today I present the most condensed version of that epic tale."

Sister Beads, by Katie Crane

A local ghost story takes us to the halls of Holy Heart of Mary High School in St. John's, where, as a student, Katie Crane first heard the tale of Sister Beads when staying at the school overnight.

"Because obviously you're a bunch of teenagers in the high school gym, you tell ghost stories," said Crane. "And then nobody wanted to leave to go to the bathroom because they would have to walk down the area that she's supposed to be roaming the halls."

While she has never heard Sister Beads herself, classmates swore they heard the spectre's sounds.

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