Dutch Language Blog

Dutch Monsters/Creatures Posted by on Apr 30, 2009 in Dutch Language

Children everywhere in the world are told scary stories about mythological creatures as a warning to behave. Dutch children are no exception.

Here are some evil and some not quite so evil supernatural beings that exist in Dutch folklore:

(Boeman) is the Bogeyman of the Netherlands. According to Dutch lore, a man dressed in black with sharp claws and fangs kidnaps bad children and locks them in a basement. (Kidnaps…Locks in basement…I think that’s the aspect that’s scarier than the fangs and claws.)

(Mara) is a supernatural female creature that causes people to have nightmares by sitting on their chest. (Uh…that’s just wrong, as if children already need more obstacles to fall asleep)

(Witte Wieven) means “White Women.” They’re female elves that live near cemeteries and thought to have the power to help or harm people, depending on their mood. (Hmmm…I’m beginning to see a trend in a lot of the monsters being female…kind of sexist, don’t you think?)

(Kabouter) is a gnome or leprechaun. They live underground and wear pointy red hats. The males have long beards. Some are helpful to humans. They clean the house and in one story they make shoes for an elderly couple. At other times they can be mischievous and trash your whole house (But you see…I know real people who do that…and they probably blame it on the Kabouter)

(Klaas Vaak) is the Dutch version of the Sandman. He sprinkles magical sand or dust to put children to sleep. The sand is supposed to be the muck stuck between your eyes when you wake up in the morning. (That’s actually a clever way to explain how eye wax got stuck to your eye. I think kids can accept that explanation)

If you know of any other “creatures” write it in the comment box.

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  1. Amber:

    dwaallichtjes: they are said to be the souls of children that drowned in the swamps. they are seen as white lights hovering there. they are called dwaallichtjes, because when you see them you get the urge to reach out for them, but thy always stay out of reach making you follow them into the swamps, where you either get stuck or drown or get lost. I’ve been told thet when you see them it’s best to ignore them andjust slowely walk away, as the react badly to running, yelling or whistling (although I don’t know why. To get rid of them you have to sprinkle holywater over them, not because they’re evil and it hurts them but because they’re children who couldn’t find peace and the holywater is like being baptized and sends them to rest.