Season’s Beatings: The Story of Krampus
Merry Christmas!! The Yuletide is one of my favorite seasons. The caroling, the presents, the repetitive television specials, I love all of it. But the joy of Christmas hides a darker, more dangerous element, an element which threatens the lives of people around the world. Most people are sadly unaware these dangers, so I’ve taken it upon myself to educate the general public. I’m referring, of course, to the Krampus, the monster of Christmas.
Krampus is a folkloric creature, similar to Santa Claus or Sasquatch. However, while Santa Claus and his elves manage all of the gift-giving themselves, traditionally in Europe St. Nicholas delegates the punishment of naughty little boys and girls to Krampus. A horrifying beast, Krampus accompanies St. Nicholas on his travels on December 6th, the Feast of St. Nicholas. He plays Bad Cop to St. Nick’s Good Cop, whipping naughty children with birch rods. Sometimes this isn’t quite enough, so Krampus will actually throw the children into a burlap sack on his back and run away with them, either to eat them at home or drown them in a nearby river.
Krampus may seem a little dark for a holiday which stresses “peace on Earth,” but that’s not entirely his fault. Like Christmas trees and Easter eggs, Krampus is rooted in pre-Christian religious holidays, and was re-appropriated as an Alpine Christian figure. Additionally, since his traditions didn’t cross the Atlantic with most early settlers, Krampus hasn’t been a staple of American Christmases, and he hasn’t been subjected to the same kinds of santization and commercialization as Santa. While there has been a renewed interest in Krampus in recent years, he’s still not very well represented.
But that’s no reason to take it easy!! Krampus is out there. It’s not as easy as it was when we were kids, when the worst thing that could happen if you were bad was some coal. This guy doesn’t play around. While I think we’re mostly out of the woods this year, with St. Nicholas Day come and gone, but Krampus is crafty, so I for one am playing it safe and keeping watch until New Year’s. Apparently Krampus is a fan of schnapps, which is the best way to distract him. Other than that, I’d say avoid traveling through wooded areas alone, and using the phrase “long hair, don’t care” in any context. (I don’t think Krampus has a problem with that last one, but it sure bugs the hell out of me.)
Merry Christmas, and stay safe.
http://youtu.be/WLnl5ZWG4tg (This is a video of a Krampuslauf, which is kind of a drunken parade of people dressed in Krampus outfits. It’s about eight minutes long and terrifying.)