International Urban Legends: Netherlands

We arrive in the Netherlands today and find a host of scary urban legends to haunt you with. From the White Women to ape-like spirits the Dutch have plenty of urban legends. Maybe that explains why the dip their fries in mayo?

Witte Wieven

Do not throw an anvil into a pit with impunity.

A “White Woman” of Dutch legend.

This is likely the most famous legend in the Netherlands. The “White Women” or “Devious White Women”. Legends has it that they are spirits of medicine women, now wraiths, that range from elves, to helpers to evil pranksters.

Among their activities are kidnapping babies, tricking people to their demises, appearing as fog and burying treasure in caves.

Oh, if you think you’ve found a pit that serves as their lair, leave it be. Legend says that if you throw an anvil into the pit they call home they will not like it. In fact, they’ll catch the anvil, run you down and throw it back at you – sharp end first.

The Third Fisherman

In the Maas River near Maastricht a pair of fisherman sailed out into the night. They were having a good night of fishing when they caught more than they had bargained for.

At some point a third fisherman had appeared in the boat, fishing with his back turned to them. Shortly after noticing their new companion, a nearby church bell struck one, and the third man stood up turned and walked toward the other two.

His face appeared to be composed of cobwebs and, even as he stepped over the men and off of the boat and disappeared into the river, the boat never moved.

The Headless Man

As if that wasn’t enough, the Maas River is also home to the Headless Man.

Legend has it that a merchant wanted to cross the river one night but the ferryman was having none of it. “The headless man is roaming the opposite shore,” the boatsman explained.

But the merchant insisted on crossing and the reluctant ferryman carried him across. The merchant departed and went on his way. Only, he wasn’t alone. A large, dark shape was at his side. It moved when and where he did and it stopped whenever he stopped.

At length, the merchant finally turned to face his companion and found himself looking at a 15-foot-tall giant, with broad shoulders and two horse-like legs. Oh, and no head.

The merchant resume walking, quite quickly, with this appareition at his side until the merchant began praying out loud. When he put an “Amen” on his prayer, the headless man wailed loudly and disappeared. But he left a foul odor behind as a reminder.

Blue Gerrit

The Blue Gerrit of legend is an invisible ape-like spirit. It likes to jump on the shoulders of unsuspecting who walking about in rural areas. But, if you look sharp enough, you can occasionally see a pair of shining eyes or a blue light in the bushes where it is hiding.

It is heavy and it smells badly and it will wear you down to the point of exhaustion. But it also has a heroic side to it.

One day a young lord decided to kidnap the daughter of a widow, But the man’s horse would not move. Suddenly the Blue Gerrit appeared, leaped upon the man’s back and rode him until the next morning.

To rid himself of the Blue Gerritt, the man handed over two bags of gold to the widow’s daughter. We assume he returned to the more traditional methods of wooing a wife after that.

About the author

Richard Paolinelli


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