The Karankoncolos is a malevolent creature in Northeast Anatolian Turkish, Macedonian, Bulgarian, and Serbian folklore. It is a variety of bogeyman, usually merely troublesome and rather harmless, but sometimes truly evil. It has thick hairy fur like the Sasquatch.
According to late Ottoman Turkish myth, they appear on the first ten days of Zemheri, 'the dreadful cold', when they stand on murky corners, and ask seemingly ordinary questions to the passers-by. In order to escape harm, one should answer each question, using the word "kara" (the Turkish word for 'black'), or risk being struck dead by the creature.
It was also said in Turkish folklore that the Karakoncolos could call people out during the cold Zemheri nights, by imitating voices of loved ones. The Karakoncolos' victim risked freezing to death if he or she could not awake from the charm.
The Bulgarian name of the creature is Karakondjul (or Karakondjol, Bulgarian: Караконджол). The Karakondjul walks at night. Koukeri (or kukeri) is the name of a Bulgarian custom, the purpose of which is to scare away the evil creature and avoid contact with it.
In Macedonian folklore
In Macedonian folklore this mythical creature is seen in two variations: as male witcher or sorcerer (Macedonian: Караконџол, Karakondžol), or as a female witch or bad ghost (Macedonian: Караконџула, Karakondžula). Though, both of them share nearly the same physical traits, the only difference being if it is an elder man or woman. Karakondžol carries a cane, wears long cloak and has very long nails on his hands. In its female version, the creature has also long, greasy hair. On his head both of them have goaty horns, while their smile is awful due to the iron teeth. Strangely, the monster's eyes are said to be very pale and can penetrate into their victims' souls. Usually it comes out during the so-called 'unbaptized days' (Macedonian: некрстени денови), as the days between the Macedonian holiday Kolede and Epiphany (in the Orthodox Church) are called. This mythical creature shows up during the night and stands in front of the doors of its human victims. In order to deceive them, it can transform itself in a thin and tall woman, or a small girl. It usually goes back to its home, represented as an underground pit, at the first cock's song in the morning.
In Serbian folklore
In Serbian Christmas traditions, the Twelve Days of Christmas used to be called the "unbaptized days" and were considered a time when demonic forces of all kinds were believed to be more than usually active and dangerous. People were cautious not to attract their attention, and did not go out late at night. The latter precaution was especially because of the demons called karakondžula (Serbian Cyrillic: Караконџула; also karakondža, karakandža or karapandža), imagined as heavy, squat, and ugly creatures. According to tradition, when a karakondžula found someone outdoors during the night of an unbaptized day, it would jump on the person's back and demand to be carried wherever it wanted. This torture would end only when roosters announced the dawn; at that moment the creature would release its victim and run away.
- Özhan Öztürk. (Black Sea: Encyclopedic Dictionary) Karadeniz Ansiklopedik Sözlük. 2 Vol. Heyamola Publishing. Istanbul. 2005 ISBN 975-6121-00-9
- Türk Söylence Sözlüğü (Turkish Mythology Dictionary), Deniz Karakurt, (OTRS: CC BY-SA 3.0)
- Karakoncolos, Karakura, Kukeri (Turkish)
- Vuković, Milan T. (2004). "Божићни празници". Народни обичаји, веровања и пословице код Срба [Serbian folk customs, beliefs, and sayings] (in Serbian) (12 ed.). Belgrade: Sazvežđa. ISBN 86-83699-08-0.