Before there were beautiful stories of Santa and Christmas, there were darker tales told at Christmas time. One tale that originated in the early 1600’s in Poland survives even today in rural areas in Europe about the Christmas Wasp or Wasp King. During this time period, candy canes in northern Europe were black and yellow commemorating the Christmas Wasp.
The story is told that a poor farmer made a deal with the Devil concerning his turnip crop. The devil would cause the farmer’s turnip crop to be a bumper crop, and the farmer would yield his soul for eternal damnation.
The Devil tried to collect what was due him for producing a bumper crop for the farmer. But the farmer offered to cut off his own fingers instead of yielding his soul for eternal damnation.
When the devil refused that compromise, the farmer thought fast and offered the devil a taste of the world’s finest honey. Apparently even Satan liked honey, so he agreed to follow the farmer to his wood shed for his prize of honey. The farmer told Satan that all he had to do was to reach into a hole in the wall and he would get a real treat. What Satan did not know was that in the hole was a wasp nest, and wasps do not produce honey. The stings were so severe that the Devil fled back to Hell.
The story does not end there. The Wasp King was so irritated at the farmer that he and his fellow wasps stung the farmer to death.
Well, enough with the dark side of folklore concerning insects and Christmas. Enjoy your Christmas Season and don’t reach into any wasp nests!