With the holidays fast approaching, we must think of all the special seasonal characters that come around to excite us. We certainly can’t forget the few that exist to scare us, too. However, in traditional American holiday time, there’s not really any characters that exist to frighten us. So, I figured we could borrow one from another culture for awhile, and learn about the odd and frankly terrifying ways of Krampus.
Many people, who do not come from one of the many countries that honor it, seem to think that Krampus is a day, or another holiday. And though there is a night in which he is more present, Krampus is a creature. A very odd, creepy creature. He is depicted as being a devilish goat looking thing. Covered in black or brown hair, with large horns, hooves, and a giant tongue.
Krampus is meant to contrast St. Nicholas. If all the good children are rewarded, than the bad children must be punished. Enter Krampus, who’s threat is to come frighten children, carrying around a chain or birch branches for whipping, and sometimes a sack or whole bathtub, to capture or drown especially bad children. That’s certainly a threat real enough to keep you on your best behavior all year.
Krampus originated in Germany, but is very present in the culture of many European countries. Places like Austria, Romania, Bavaria, Czech Republic, Solvakia, Hungary, Slovenia, and Croatia are also known to participate in Krampus activities and folklore. On December 5, the eve of The Feast of St Nicholas, Krampus appears on the streets for something now referred to as Krampusnacht (Krampus Night). Sometimes he is with St Nicholas, sometimes he is alone. Krampus is a sort of Grinch that works with Christmas and St Nicholas, rather than against it. They work together, taking care of all children, good & bad. The thought is that you can’t have good without having the bad. On Krampusnacht, the kids who didn’t behave as well are basically hunted by the Krampus, while the good are rewarded by St. Nicholas. Though this all sounds a little silly, and spooky, it is still present in the cultures of the Alpine countries that honor it. Just as we have all sorts of Santas running around here, young men will dress up as Krampus there, parading in the streets frightening children. So beware of the Krampusnacht, Fangirls.
The moral of the story is to just behave ourselves during the year, everyone. We don’t need Krampus coming to hassle anybody and give us a hard time. Honestly, he freaks me about quite a bit, so I’ll be sure to be nice and stick with my boy St. Nicholas. I suggest you try to do the same, Fangirls!
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