Things That Never Were
Banniks are creepy little spirits that reside in the bathhouses of Russia and Slavic countries. Bathhouses in these regions were historically considered spiritual spaces. Ceremonies relating to birth, marriage, and even death often took place in these buildings.
The number one rule for Banniks is to not upset them. If angered, a Bannik might act out in pretty terrifying ways, like pouring boiling water on bathers, throwing red hot rocks, stealing children, or even strangling individuals who have offended them. Banniks are friendly with other supernatural creatures and often invite demons and forest spirits to bathe with them. For that reason, no Christian imagery is allowed in bathhouses. It is recommended that you remove any crosses before entering.
Banniks are usually described as small men with enlarged heads, having long sharp fingernails and beards so long they touch the floor. Some Banniks have wives. The female version of these spirits is referred to as Bannaias. It is common practice to provide offerings of water, soap, or fir branches to these mischievous spirits.
Most of the time you will not see a Bannik. They tend to hide under benches or in dark corners, but you may catch a glimpse of one lurking around in the vapor and mist. Odds are, you are more likely to feel a Bannik. If they softly caress you on your back, you can expect good fortune in your future. However, if the creature scratches you, it is considered a bad omen. During Yuletide, women would gather in the bathhouse to see what predictions the Bannik had for the upcoming year by waiting to see if they were touched or scratched by the unpredictable entity. As intriguing as these creatures sound, I’m not too sure I want to visit a Russian or Slavic bathhouse any time soon.