While Krampus continues his yearly infiltration of the saccharine celebrations of Christmas, there are other figures, arguably equal in nastiness, that remain largely unknown outside their counties of origin. Let’s see if we can change that, shall we? Let’s give a little love this week to Hans Trapp, the carnivorous snowman of France. Trapp was, according to legend, a real Scrooge, but unlike ol’ Ebenezer who was just a skinflint and unscrupulous businessman, Trapp got rich by making a deal with the Devil. He was arrested by church authorities and dragged to Rome to stand trial, where he was excommunicated by the Pope. He returned home to find his properties had been confiscated and was reduced to having to live in the woods, resorting to murder and cannibalism to survive. He disguised himself as a scarecrow to commit his crimes, but got whacked by God, struck down by a bolt of lightning. (Such things are not merely the purview of Zeus, it seems). Now his ghost roams the forests in the form of a scarecrow, on the lookout for naughty children at Christmastime. That a movie has never been made featuring this character is a darn shame.
Hans Trapp may have been inspired by a real person, Hans von Trotha (1450-1503) who did get summoned to Rome (he declined the invitation) after getting into a feud with an abbot and was excommunicated. There is no extant record of murder, cannibalism, or scarecrow impersonation where Hans von Trotha is concerned.
That doesn’t mean it didn’t happen, though.