The Fright Before Christmas Explores the Dark Side of America’s Biggest Holiday

Jeff Belanger’s new book is the first to tell the frightening, monster- and ghost-filled story of Christmas through millennia of history, folklore, and legends.

NEWBURYPORT, Mass., Sept. 28, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC today announced the publication of Jeff Belanger’s new book, The Fright Before Christmas: Surviving Krampus and Other Yuletide Monsters. After hanging up outdoor decorations at his home one cold December morning, Belanger grew frustrated with his frigid fingers and half-working strings of holiday lights and began asking himself questions: Why do we put wreaths on our doors? Why the lights? Why the Christmas tree? Why Santa? Why do we expend so much money and stress on this one day? How did we get to this point of commercialism and humbug-iness?

“Those questions led me down a deep and dark rabbit hole that took me through many countries, times, and cultures,” said The Fright Before Christmas author Jeff Belanger. “The Winter Solstice is a dark, cold, and dangerous time of year. In that icy darkness, monsters and ghosts are hunting us. Halloween is the second-most frightening holiday behind Christmas.”

From the Winter Solstice to Saturnalia to Yule to Christmas, Belanger’s book traces the origins, customs, and monsters of the yuletide season. Austria’s Krampus is the most well-known of the monsters, but it turns out Saint Nicholas has other cohorts. Germany’s Belsnickel is coming to whip naughty children, Grýla from Iceland is descending the mountains to devour lost kids, and Père Fouettard from France will beat the bad out of little brats, just to name a few.

In addition to illustrating the monsters and ghosts of the holidays, The Fright Before Christmas explores Christianity’s long-standing war on Christmas, plus the timeline and origins of Santa Claus. 

“If you need someone to show you the Christmas spirit, who better than an author best known for ghosts and the paranormal?” said Michael Pye, Associate Publisher at Red Wheel/Weiser. “Like Tim Burton’s Nightmare Before Christmas, this is a book we know horror, paranormal, and holiday fans will love anytime of year, but especially from Halloween through Christmas.”

The Fright Before Christmas is now available as a full-color hardcover book, e-book, and audiobook narrated by the author.

About Jeff Belanger
Jeff Belanger ( is an author, adventurer, journalist, and one of the most visible explorers of the unexplained. He is also the Emmy-nominated host, writer, and producer of the New England Legends series on PBS and the weekly New England Legends podcast. He’s been a guest on hundreds of television and radio networks and programs. He lives near Boston, Massachusetts.

About Red Wheel/Weiser
Red Wheel/Weiser is an independent publisher specializing in “Books to Live By.” The company’s books serve to expand the mind, heal the body, and nurture the spirit. Imprints include: Weiser Books, the premier publisher of occult and esoterica since 1957, and New Page Books, offering well-researched books on Alternative History, Paranormal, UFOs, Ancient Mysteries, and Unexplained Phenomena.

Media Contact:
Eryn Eaton

SOURCE Red Wheel/Weiser LLC