christmas

Krampus

gruss_vom_krampus

I got lucky this year. People didn’t flood me with Krampus related links on social media. Because there’s a whole hell of a lot o folklore I like more than Krampus, and for some reason my friends got really stuck on some sort of connection between Krampus and myself last year. It was enough to make a person grumpy.

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I’ve mentioned Krampus in passing, several times, but as his popularity has grown in American pop culture has grown over the past few years (want to smell like Krampus? Because you can. No, really…you can buy Krampus themed perfume) maybe it’s time he gets his own standalone entry.

It seems that European cultures are much more willing to play up the ‘bad’ side of Christmas-in America, at least, while there’s this veiled threat against misbehaving children the end result is pretty benign on the whole. The worst that can happen is that you don’t make it onto the ‘nice’ list and therefore don’t get presents. I suppose in a culture that is as commercially driven as my own, not being gifted-especially as a child-is pretty traumatic.

I suppose as a prior warning, if you click any of the links provided in the end of this entry, you might see vintage images of children being physically punished. It’s not horribly graphic, but if you don’t want to see these things you might want to avoid clicking those links.

You might also want to stop reading now, since that’s sort of the point of Krampus-otherwise known currently as the Christmas demon.

Krampus, like most folkloric figures, has a slight range of appearances, ranging from the Baphomet inspired cloven hooves and horns to a surly gentleman in black, to a gentleman in black who may be slightly furrier than normal. He comes holding some form of weapon for physical punishment (either rusty chains or whips) and a basket or other holding device. It should be noted however that there are other interpretations of the items he holds including the chains marking the binding of the devil by the Christian Church (Wikipedia has a full paragraph on the symbolism of his items; article is linked below.)

Krampus has one specific job: to accompany Santa Clause or St. Nicholas and heavily punish misbehaving children. If you’re lucky he’ll just beat you…if you’re not so lucky he’ll beat you and drag  you into hell. This is not a minor folkloric, throw away concept either-December features Krampusnacht, held the night before St. Nicholas’ Day. Krampusnacht features dancing, singing, drinking, mummery, parades, and other carnival like events to ring in Krampus’ return.

Krampus even had his own Christmas cards, often with slightly more adult tones than you would think.

As the Santa Clause image began to filter into American culture, the Krampus image with its potential ties back to Pagan solstice rituals (National Geographic claims that Krampus is the son of Hel) and emphasis on punishment lost favor and was never really picked up in the States outside of regional traditions. While the image also never died out fully in Europe, Krampus is now slowly making a re-emergence both Europe and the States with increasing numbers of Krampus parades, the reintroduction of Krampus cards, and the reintroduction of the image back into popular culture.

However, the States would not be the only culture to reject Krampus. The Austrian government took an unfavorable view on Krampusnacht and banned the practice by law in 1934. In the 1950s they distributed pamphlets warning against the evils of Krampus. This was most likely was a reaction to political thought in that era than the actual image, however. Further, perhaps understandably, the Catholic church wasn’t exactly fond of him either.

 

(As an aside, while Buffalo hosts a Santacon this weekend-and I would very much like to see it-several cities hold a challenger Krampuscon. I’m assuming that if Santacon is drinking and collecting charity gifts-which it is in Buffalo- then Krampuscon must be drinking and brooding.)

Krampus.com

Krampus

Who is Krampus? Exploring the Christmas Devil

10 Fun Facts About Krampus, the Christmas Demon

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Apple Spice Kitchen Simmer

apple-661694_1920

I’m slowly starting to do [seriously Memory Month was the best thing I’ve done for this blog yet] [spoiler: do is 2016’s Word of the Year. More on that later] again. It’s not a happy thing. It’s a fighting against the current thing, a I really don’t want to be doing this thing. But I know that it’s like exercise-I might hate it when I’m doing it, but eventually I’ll be glad that I did.

Speaking of which, I took myself on a wander yesterday, which is why I finally got around to trying a kitchen simmer. I got in the habit of taking myself out on dates when I was going to SUNY Oswego. The idea was that I am an introverted, impatient thing, and if no one was going to take me, I would take myself. I haven’t done it in years but there has been oddities in trying to plan Thanksgiving this year and it sent me into a minor tailspin. I went and got myself a new lipstick, took myself on a lunch date, and wandered through Kenmore enjoying the cold. There’s about three days a fall where I like the cold and then I remember it’s Buffalo and it’s going to be cold for six months…

I came home and made a pie. Which left me with cores (and a recipe to go up later this week). And led to finally trying a kitchen simmer. My building is decently old, and even when it’s freshly cleaned it smells a little musty from the basement. It gets worse in the winter. I want my home to smell good, but Mid can’t handle candles.

This is a very simple project, and it will appeal to the idea of using as much as you can for as long as you can. You can simmer it for a couple of days, adding more water as you go. You’re not eating it so letting it sit overnight isn’t an issue but that’s about as far as I would let it go.

Apple Spice Kitchen Simmer

To a medium sauce pot, add either several apple cores and peels, or two chopped apples, cinnamon sticks, and a good sized dash of pumpkin spice. Let simmer slowly.

You can add cranberries, oranges, or vanilla for variety.

Sweet and Spicy Oven Fries

potato-165648_1280

Christmas was both quiet and warm.

Warm enough that Christmas Eve was spent with thunderstorms heavy enough to shake the windows. I went without a coat yesterday, and while I definitely needed one for the walk I took in the morning it was still over 40.

This is coming after a November where the Southtowns got seven feet of snow before Thanksgiving.

And of course the heater is going so it’s about a thousand degrees in the apartment. I’m not complaining, not too much anyway, we’ve had plenty of very cold winters in here.

[There are all sorts of weird noises coming from outside. I’m not sure what’s going on out there.]

With Yule falling before Christmas and my normal inability to go home for holidays (it’s been that way since I’ve been on my own, this is nothing new) our holiday ‘stuff’ is almost always done before Christmas proper so Christmas Day was spent doing not much of anything.

I know that ‘baking’ normally implies ‘sweets’ or maybe ‘bread’ but these fries were made in the oven so I’m counting them.

These are based on a recipe from All Recipes; this time on top of my normal lack of following the recipe I didn’t even read it. I read the blurb for the spices listed and the baking instructions and went from there.

Sweet and Spicy Oven Baked Fries

2 large white baking potatoes, cut into equal sized slices

1-2 tablespoons chili powder, preferably salt free

1-2 tablespoons sugar

1-2 teaspoons table salt

1 pinch dried rosemary

1-2 tablespoons olive oil

Preheat oven to 450

Line a cookie tray with foil and spray or wipe with oil

In a large bowl, toss everything

Spread in a single layer on the sheet

Bake for 30 minutes, stirring about halfway through

baking

Open Thread-Ghosts of Christmases Past

I try to touch on ghosts and hauntings at least once every Christmas week-let’s just say that I’m trying to get in touch with my inner Victoriana.

Have you ever had anything creepy happen to you around the holidays?

My most vivid horror/creepy memory related to Christmas was something that I did to myself. I take full responsibility for this one, and I’m not even going to attempt to suggest that it was supernatural, because I know full well that it wasn’t.

I am of the generation where one of my first, fundamental brushes with horror where the goddess forsaken pictures in The Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark books (books, which by the way, where a high demand item in my elementary library).  If you’re not of a certain age, or if you’re one of ‘those’  people that is completely fine with the changed illustrations-let me tell you one thing: we scared ourselves @#$%less, we loved every minute of it, and we ended up fine. I can promise you that I ended up with a BA with honors, graduated with honors, a Masters with honors, and full time steady employment with a heavy drive towards charity work. We were not ruined by pictures of heads floating on severed spines.

Illustrations, Gammell, Book layout and cover, Scholastic. Blogger does not claim ownership of images.

Illustrations, Gammell, Book layout and cover, Scholastic. Blogger does not claim ownership of images.

Trust me, we all. loved. these. books. with a passion that only preteens can muster and rivaled only by our desire to consume as many Goosebumps short novels as we could. And maybe Christopher Pike.

Anyway, I remember that there was one Christmas where for whatever reason I had convinced my parents that I was sleeping downstairs. It might have just amounted to dude, I’m sleeping downstairs, deal with. The house that I grew up in certainly had its creepy aspects but the living room with its giant windows was generally pretty benign-unless it was after dark, you were alone, and you were living off of a solid diet of those books. The inside illustrations didn’t get any tamer than that cover.

It wasn’t Christmas Eve, but it was close enough that we watched one of those Hallmark Channel style Christmas movie (I believe it was the Christmas Box) and while I’m sure that the adult me would probably find it sickeningly oversentimental, there was something about the story that creeped out kid me. So I’m laying there on the couch with this creepy Christmas movie, these books, and knowing that even though there was no reason that I couldn’t go upstairs to bed I was stubborn enough to sleep in the Hall of Shadows that the living room would become once my parents went upstairs.

I eventually fell asleep, straight into nightmares-but even then I had a parasomnia so it took me awhile to catch on that not everyone has continual nightmares every night. So nightmares weren’t exactly anything for me to comment on. Except that in an almost comical combination of factors, my dad got up and turned the lights on, the snowplow came by, and for whatever reason the musical Christmas lights turned themselves on at the same time. I woke up out of a nightmare of heads floating around on severed spines to this blaze of lights and rumbling and O Come, All Ye Faithful.

I refused to sleep downstairs for close to two years after that.

The Hot Sauces of Christmas

Pixabay

Pixabay

There is a store in the Galleria Mall that I want to move into.

It is nothing but hot food products.

Hot sauce, hot bbq sauce, hot jam, hot salsa, dried peppers…I just want to live there.

Mid asked me what I wanted for my Christmas stocking since I already have my big present (hint: it is related to penguins. Giant penguins). I told him hot sauce.

It turns out that we’re both terrible at Christmas-ing. We still need to put the tree up but neither of us seem to be in any great rush for that this year.

The big problem that we’re having this year is making the presents last until Christmas. I had asked him, specifically, for this hot sauce kit that I had seen that had five or six bottles of hot sauce that I’ve been eying for a few years now, and have never managed to get for myself.

My hot sauce collection stands as follows, including what I had before Christmas started:

-A Tabasco type that I use mainly for cooking

-2 different scotch bonnet sauces

-1 Peri-peri sauce

-Sambal Oelek

Firestarter in various configurations

-White Zombi

-Tiger Sauce

-One @#$%ing Drop at a Time

-Berserker

-Frostbite

Frau Holle

Pixabay

Pixabay

Mid and I had a conversation the other day on the way home from work.

The end result  is that with the way that I’m shaped like a beach ball and going gray young…I’m eventually going to end up Mrs. Santa Clause.

With that in mind, I thought I would touch on one of the happier, feminine Christmas and Yule legends-Frau Holle.

Depending on source, who Frau Holle (also called Frau Holda) actually is varies. Some suggest that she is an aspect of Frigga, the Norse goddess of the hearth. In some  regions of Europe she falls closer to Baba Yaga,  with a decidedly hag influence. In other areas, she is her own entity in and of herself. She -may- have originally been a dual natured entity, taking on either the hag or the maiden depending on story or region. Regardless of who she is, Frau Holle is a spirit who gifts the community in the winter.

She is often associate with women specifically, or by extension, the areas controlled by women-the hearth and children. However her influence also extends into the winter forest. This connection to the woodlands is extended to her symbols- Frau Holle, perhaps not surprisingly, is associated with holly and other plants that are still green in winter like pines and evergreens. Frau Holle is also associated with snow.

Interestingly, though the citations are vague, she may have been linked to the Wild Hunt. This would be one of the few leaders who were actually seen as being heavily benevolent instead of just morally gray. However, this might also just be an extension of her roles as a winter, forest guardian into similarly themed folklore. It does need to be noted however that when in connection to the hunt, she is connected primarily to the spirits of mothers and children, therefore maintaining her already established folkloric roles. Even though that source had little citations noted, the source list does heavily pull from academic sources, so maybe there is something to it.

The Legend of Frau Holle

Mother Hulda

Holda

Krampus

Gruss_vom_Krampus

I’ve mentioned Krampus in passing, several times, but as his popularity has grown in American pop culture has grown over the past few years (want to smell like Krampus? Because you can. No, really…you can buy Krampus themed perfume) maybe it’s time he gets his own standalone entry.

It seems that European cultures are much more willing to play up the ‘bad’ side of Christmas-in America, at least, while there’s this veiled threat against misbehaving children the end result is pretty benign on the whole. The worst that can happen is that you don’t make it onto the ‘nice’ list and therefore don’t get presents. I suppose in a culture that is as commercially driven as my own, not being gifted-especially as a child-is pretty traumatic.

I suppose as a prior warning, if you click any of the links provided in the end of this entry, you might see vintage images of children being physically punished. It’s not horribly graphic, but if you don’t want to see these things you might want to avoid clicking those links.

You might also want to stop reading now, since that’s sort of the point of Krampus-otherwise known currently as the Christmas demon.

Krampus, like most folkloric figures, has a slight range of appearances, ranging from the Baphomet inspired cloven hooves and horns to a surly gentleman in black, to a gentleman in black who may be slightly furrier than normal. He comes holding some form of weapon for physical punishment (either rusty chains or whips) and a basket or other holding device. It should be noted however that there are other interpretations of the items he holds including the chains marking the binding of the devil by the Christian Church (Wikipedia has a full paragraph on the symbolism of his items; article is linked below.)

Krampus has one specific job: to accompany Santa Clause or St. Nicholas and heavily punish misbehaving children. If you’re lucky he’ll just beat you…if you’re not so lucky he’ll beat you and drag  you into hell. This is not a minor folkloric, throw away concept either-December features Krampusnacht, held the night before St. Nicholas’ Day. Krampusnacht features dancing, singing, drinking, mummery, parades, and other carnival like events to ring in Krampus’ return.

Krampus even had his own Christmas cards, often with slightly more adult tones than you would think.

As the Santa Clause image began to filter into American culture, the Krampus image with its potential ties back to Pagan solstice rituals (National Geographic claims that Krampus is the son of Hel) and emphasis on punishment lost favor and was never really picked up in the States outside of regional traditions. While the image also never died out fully in Europe, Krampus is now slowly making a re-emergence both Europe and the States with increasing numbers of Krampus parades, the reintroduction of Krampus cards, and the reintroduction of the image back into popular culture.

However, the States would not be the only culture to reject Krampus. The Austrian government took an unfavorable view on Krampusnacht and banned the practice by law in 1934. In the 1950s they distributed pamphlets warning against the evils of Krampus. This was most likely was a reaction to political thought in that era than the actual image, however. Further, perhaps understandably, the Catholic church wasn’t exactly fond of him either.

 

(As an aside, while Buffalo hosts a Santacon this weekend-and I would very much like to see it-several cities hold a challenger Krampuscon. I’m assuming that if Santacon is drinking and collecting charity gifts-which it is in Buffalo- then Krampuscon must be drinking and brooding.)

Krampus.com

Krampus

Who is Krampus? Exploring the Christmas Devil

10 Fun Facts About Krampus, the Christmas Demon