Here’s What the Spookiest “Boogeyman” Looks Like in Different Countries

Boogeyman Around the World

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Whether it was the Boogeyman, Krampus, or El Coco, most of us grew up with a mysterious, scary figure that lurked in the shadows. Our parents would bring it up as a way to make us behave or make sure we went to bed at night.

Depending on where you grew up, this figure could take on many forms. Sometimes it's an evil witch, sometimes it's a zombie, and sometimes it's just a straight-up monster. And though scaring your kid into behaving is now known to not be the best technique psychologically, there are still some good reasons to talk about these legendary figures at the appropriate time. In some cultures, using allegories and storytelling is the prime way that parents teach their children to regulate their emotions.

Just in time for the peak of the spooky season, TheToyZone has put together a fun map of legendary characters around the world. This includes the UK's Boogeyman, which started as the Bogeyman in the 15th century. Many of the “boogeymen” around the world have similarities in that they are geared toward teaching children a lesson for not listening to their parents. Some have milder “punishments” for not listening, while others are more menacing and threaten to eat or kidnap children who misbehave.

In Spain, El Hombre Del Saco is an old man who eats the children that he collects. Variations of the “Sack Man” exist across different Latin countries. In Egypt, the figure is called Abu Rigl Maslukha, which translates to “Man with Burnt Legs.” The legend says that he was burned as a child by his parents for not listening and now returns the favor to other mischievous kids.

Many figures are also tied to the local environment and/or the specific dangers that children face in a particular country. For instance, Tata Duende is Belize's mythical goblin. This small creature wears a wide-brimmed hat and is the protector of animals and the jungle. As such, Tata Duende is used to scare children into not wandering off at night or going into the jungle.

But not all creatures intend to harm children. Indonesia's Wewe Gombel is much more benevolent. This female ghost actually takes mistreated children away from their parents and keeps them safe in her nest until their parents change their ways.

Scroll down to see what form the boogeyman takes in different countries, and then take a dive into the folklore behind these spooky creatures.

Here's what the boogeyman looks like in different countries around the world.

Boogeyman in North America

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Boogeyman in Europe

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Boogeyman in South America

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Boogeyman in Africa

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Boogeyman in Middle East and Central Asia

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Boogeyman in Asia and Oceania

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My Modern Met granted permission to feature photos by TheToyZone.

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Jessica Stewart

Jessica Stewart is a Contributing Writer and Digital Media Specialist for My Modern Met, as well as a curator and art historian. Since 2020, she is also one of the co-hosts of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. She earned her MA in Renaissance Studies from University College London and now lives in Rome, Italy. She cultivated expertise in street art which led to the purchase of her photographic archive by the Treccani Italian Encyclopedia in 2014. When she’s not spending time with her three dogs, she also manages the studio of a successful street artist. In 2013, she authored the book 'Street Art Stories Roma' and most recently contributed to 'Crossroads: A Glimpse Into the Life of Alice Pasquini'. You can follow her adventures online at @romephotoblog.
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