Every culture has them. Creepy stories that get whispered down through the generations. Always mysterious and never quite conclusively proven, these urban legends from around the world prove we all share the same sorts of fears…
The Yeti in the Himalayas
Let’s begin with probably the most famous urban legend from around the world. The Yeti is a muscular ape-like figure descending from Sherpa folklore. It’s apparently so elusive because it can only survive at high altitudes. A lack of oxygen causing hallucinations or a real mountain apeman?
The abandoned Indian village of Kuldhara
Across the border in India is an abandoned village said to be haunted by ghosts. This urban legend claims that the prime minister of the region ordered the daughter of the village leader to marry him. Rather than obey, the proud villagers simply disappeared, leaving only a curse on the village. It’s said that anyone who tries to stay there is haunted by the whispers and screams of the old villagers.
The Jinn in UAE
A Jinn is a supernatural creature from Arabic folklore and the Umm Al Duwais is the most famous. Said to be a beautiful woman covered in gold and smelling of rich Arabic perfumes, she would call to men in an alluring voice. Those that follow discover her true identity- an old witch, so scary the men drop dead.
The Sydney Harbour Bridge
Building this architectural masterpiece in the 1920s and 30s was no easy feat and unfortunately many people fell to their deaths. There is a persistent urban legend that three men fell into the bottom of the brick pylons and were never retrieved. Could it be that masses of tourists are stepping over the entombed workers who created it?
The Chupacabra in Puerto Rico
Deep in the remote jungle of Puerto Rico villagers will tell tales of a reptilian-like creature, who sneaks in to kill and drink the blood of livestock and pets (the name means goat-sucker in Spanish). Biologists have dismissed it as an urban legend but you won’t convince the locals.
Beijing’s ghost bus
A country as big as China is a mine for urban legends. This one recounts the last journey of the 302 bus to Flagrant Hills. A man boards the bus on a dark and stormy night and it's soon flagged down by two men carrying another with long, messy hair. Fearing for her life an old lady fabricates an argument with another passenger and they get thrown off the bus. Only later do they realize she saved their lives. The bus is found in a reservoir, with three dead bodies- driver, conductor and a man with long, unkempt hair.
The Loch Ness Monster, Scotland
Another contender for most famous urban legend around the world, everybody has heard of ‘Nessie’ but only a few have seen her. Described as a ‘sea serpent’, ‘monster fish’ and a ‘dragon’ scientists have dismissed sightings as wishful thinking or hoaxes.
Krampus is a popular legend in central Europe, thought to come from the Pagans. Now associated with Christmas he is a half-devil, half-goat creature that punishes bad children, hitting them with sticks or even eating them and taking them to hell. The result is children in Germany are particularly well behaved in December.
Night Marchers of Hawaii
First you’ll hear the ghostly beat of a drum, before seeing a band of restless spirit warriors who are said to be searching for entry into the next world. If you come across the Night Marchers you must avert your eyes, as one deadly glance can strike you down dead.
The Cursed town of Thessaloniki
Ancient Greek was famous for its mythology and modern Greece is not short of urban legends. Thessaloniki’s emblem, The White Tower is also known locally as The Red Tower. It’s said to be stained with the blood of old prisoners and has to be regularly painted to erase the marks of a brutal past.
Pinky Pinky curse from South Africa
This one sounds truly terrifying. A creature that attacks young girls and is said to have a human face that’s ugly, mottled and bald. But if you look closely the features become blurred and all that can be seen are two pink-colored eyes.
Abu Regl Masloukha in Egypt
A classic use of the urban legend is to scare children into decent behavior. Parents in Egypt know that one mention of this one-legged monster will encourage kids to eat their veg and get to bed early.
The Scandinavian Gjenganger
Gjenganger are undead souls with unfinished business in the living world. They will rise from their graves and torment their friends and family. Precautions to keep family in their graves included crucifixes, symbols painted on the coffin and a three time parade around the church before burial.
Water babies in Idaho
The Snake river in Idaho is said to be haunted by the spirits of babies drowned in its waters. This horrifying idea seems to come from a time when Native Americans experienced a terrible famine and had to drown their babies at birth. They were said to grow fins and gills and there are still reported sightings in the area of Massacre Rocks.
Long Story Short...
Fears for our safety and anxieties about death and disease are shared throughout the human race. These urban legends from around the world show that human nature hasn’t changed much throughout the centuries, and that parents will always have a monster up their sleeves to get their children to bed.
Written by Laura Sedlak