Frau Gaude

Frau Gaude

Gaue, Gode, Wode

According to old folk beliefs, Frau Gaude, followed by her pack of phantom dogs, once haunted the streets of German-speaking Europe during the Twelve Days of Christmas. If she found a house with an open door, she would send in one of her dogs, which the householders would find impossible to drive away. If they killed the dog, it would turn into a stone. Regardless of where the family left the stone, it would always return to their house at night as a whimpering dog, bringing them bad luck throughout the year.

In some regions, Frau Gaude led the Wild Hunt, a riotous procession of ghosts and spirits who rode across the stormy night skies during Yule. Frau Gaude may be a variant of Berchta, a pagan winter goddess who faded into a kind of minor bogey in later times. Other names for Frau Gaude include Gaue, Gode, and Wode.

Further Reading

Miles, Clement A. Christmas in Ritual and Tradition. 1912. Reprint. Detroit, Mich.: Omnigraphics, 1990.
Encyclopedia of Christmas and New Year's Celebrations, 2nd ed. © Omnigraphics, Inc. 2003