Tuesday, December 05, 2017

You Better Watch Out..for Krampus is Coming to Town.

While strolling through Old World Wisconsin, I stumbled across this fellow...er...creature. He was sitting on a bench and encouraged some kids to come sit by him. A few curious ones did, while others suspiciously eyed him from a distance. When I inquired about his furry appearance, this chap told me that he was Krampus. I had never heard of this Christmas creature who was part goat, part demon.
Of interest, Krampus and St. Nicholas are friends who play on opposite sides of the coin. Dating back to pre-Germanic pagan times,  the name Krampus means "claw." He is said to be the son of the Norse god of the underworld. He was particularly popular in Austria, Germany, Slovenia, Hungary, and the Czech Republic. A Krampus resurgence has occurred in these countries, and now the USA has gotten in on the act.

While St. Nick/Santa comes with presents if you were well-behaved, Krampus' presence is a direct indication that you weren't quite so good. He is said to carry a bundle of birch sticks on his back, and will pull these out and start beating the naughty child. Sometimes he leaves behind some sticks to remind kids of his presence. Parents in Austria might prominently display gold-painted bundles of sticks on the walls as a reminder to behave.

Note that our Krampus is carrying a sack. He might use this to put naughty children in it, taking them back to his lair to torture or be eaten.

According to tradition,  December 5th was known as Krampusnacht, meaning Krampus night. On this fateful night, Krampus and St. Nicholas would visit each house. If the children were good, St. Nick would put candy in their shoes;. iff bad, the goat-devil would put birch twigs in their shoes. Parents sometimes arranged for the appearance of Krampus. Even after December 5, kids couldn't necessarily breathe a sigh of relief and resume mischief, since Krampus threatened that he could return at any time.
It seems that a lump of coal in one's stocking is rather tame, when compared to the actions of Krampus.

So tonight, it's not just St. Nick who's coming to town, it's his horned, hairy, long-tongued buddy Krampus who is joining him. You better watch out....

More info - from Smithsonian and Weird History.  

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