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Beware The Boogeyman

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A Brief Overview of the Boogeyman as an International Icon… Was your closet door always open?

You made your parents double check under your bed and shut your closet door tight, but even as you lie there snug in a cocoon of blankets and stuffed animals, you refuse to shut your eyes. The sliver of light peeking out from your bedroom door has finally gone, and the encroaching darkness floods the room with worries of what might be lurking unseen. You repeat your mantra; Everything’s fine. There’s nothing in your room! But as your eyelids finally give way to the tug of sleep, you swear you just heard the groan of your closet door beginning to open… Boo! It’s the boogeyman!

The boogeyman is a staple of the horror world and a popular tool for parents all around the world to spook their children into good behavior. Parental ethics aside, the concept of the boogeyman has been around for centuries with worldwide notoriety. But what exactly is the boogeyman? Where did it come from, and where did it go? While some details have been lost to time, the global impact and longevity of the boogeyman are simply undeniable. 

Shadowy Origins of the Boogeyman

It is believed the concept of the boogeyman leapt from the shadows in the 1800’s but could have been around as early as the 16th century or even long before. Various versions of the boogey’s beginnings exist depending on what country the story or idea hails from, giving the boogeyman a multicultural identity. Some lend credit to the formidable Buginese pirates of Indonesia who spread notions of fear through Dutch sailors, their favored target. Others claim the name must have European origins, drawing inspiration from the folktales of hobgoblins or bugbears. Despite the uncertainty of its true birthplace, the Boogeyman still managed to leap out of closets all over the world. 

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Cultural Variations of the Boogeyman

Depending on where you are on the globe (or who is taking creative liberties), the boogeyman can have different names, physical descriptions, and abilities, though most harbor the same vendetta against children. In some Hispanic and Latin cultures, children fear the name El Cucuy, a small but deadly creature with glowing red eyes ready to gobble up naughty children. Other Spanish speaking countries are more familiar with El Coco, a humanoid being that is depicted with a coconut like head who has the power to shapeshift and the same appetite for kids. Another different but frightening icon comes from the Mexican legend of La Llorona, a weeping spirit with an unfortunate habit of drowning children. Her haunting story is also used to caution children from bad behavior and could be considered a very famous boogeywoman. 

Among the various titles that the boogeyman has adopted, one of the more prolific names across Hispanic, European, and Nordic countries is the Sack Man. The Sack Man might be considered its own subclass of boogeyman as it is seen across multiple countries with varying human and non-human depictions. Can you guess what the sack is for?  It sure wasn’t for delivering presents on Christmas. In the winter holidays, the good tidings of Santa are accompanied by the chilling legends of sack wielding fiend. With boogeymen like the goat monster Krampus on the hunt for naughty children, coal would be the least of your worries. 

So, what is the boogeyman?

There are hundreds of ways that the boogeyman is described, and that is exactly the boogeyman’s whole purpose. The boogeyman is not one specific entity or mythological species, rather it is a concept, a manifestation to our worst fears. The boogeyman is fear itself. Fears vary from person to person, and as such the depictions of a boogeyman will vary depending on who tells it. The reason why these tales of warning are so effective against children is because their imagination is what fuels the power of the boogeyman, allowing their wildest fear to come alive in their minds. As children grow, they might no longer fear what’s hiding under their bed, but that doesn’t mean the boogeyman isn’t around. It just changes, trading sharp teeth and claws for a much more familiar look. Perhaps your boogeyman is the uncertainty of finding a job or a particularly unpleasant peer. Many might agree that the recent pandemic was a boogeyman of its own, the worst nightmare for people all over the globe. Whatever your boogeyman might be, is it a foe destined to be outgrown, no matter how young or old you may be.

Though, it doesn’t hurt to check the closet from time to time.

Check out the original trailer for “Halloween” 1978… featuring Michael Myers as The Boogeyman!

Source: Dead Talk Live

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