Things that go bump in the night and scary things underneath the bed have haunted kids’ nightmares for generations. The epitome of this fear is the bogeyman, the creature that has lurked inside closets since closets came into existence. Yet while the bogeyman first appeared in European culture, there are variations that exist throughout the world.
In the Mediterranean, the bogeyman exists as the babau. He is a man in a dark coat with either a hood or hat that covers his face. In Italy, he is generally used by parents to get children to behave; he doesn’t actually hurt the children, just take them away. In some lullabies, he keeps the children for a whole year in a horrible place. In other places, such as Slovenia, he is seen as formless. In Egypt, a version of the bogeyman known as the al-Bu’bu is a dark creature who haunts kids who misbehave.
A creature known as Der Schwarze Mann, Butzemaan, or “the black man” is a inhuman beast of Germanic lore who steals children away. He hides under the bed and eats children who will not go to sleep. When he steals them away, he’ll lock them in his basement. A similar creature also appears in the folklore of the Pennsylvania Dutch as a male scarecrow.
Common in Spanish speaking countries, El Coco is a monster that originally comes from Portuguese explorers. It has since evolved from a ghost to a monster who hides under beds and eats children when they don’t go to sleep. It’s described as a small humanoid with glowing red eyes. There’s a similar creature known as Cuca who is a female alligator.
Another form of the bogeyman common in Spain and Latin American countries is the Sack Man. As his name suggests, he carries around a sack to stuff naughty children into. While his name commonly translates to “sack man”, he’s also called el roba-chicos which means “child stealer”. Similar entities exist in Easter Europe, Asia, and Haati.
Image from the Evil Dead Franchise