krampus

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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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

Sunday Legends- The Naughty List

One of the reasons that I love horror so much is the way that the genre relies on traditional imagery. There are so many folkloric stories that influence popular culture, but they sometimes receive so little attention. Sundays will be the day where I pick one story or one image and examine the history and variations of the legend.

But this is the Holiday edition! For the month of December, I’ll be looking at seasonally appropriate themes.

The Naughty List

American pop culture teaches us that Santa Clause is watching us. Always. Watching. Us.

There’s an imperative to always be good. Always. However, Santa Clause doesn’t really punish the people who for whatever reason end up on the naughty list. Have a really bad year? Have a lump of coal. That’s…not that bad in the grand scheme of things. It could be a lot worse…

Krampus

Krampus has a long standing history in certain regions of Europe. Krampus appears in the beginning of December where he searches out naughty, misbehaving children and stuffs them in a sack. Once in the sack he carries them off…obstensibly to eat them. Or if you’re lucky, he just beat you with a chain.

I’d take the coal.

Belsnickel

Belsnickel is a derivitive of Krampus. Instead of being demonic, Belsnickel is a man dressed in large amounts of fur. Similar to Santa Clause he leaves switches in the stockings of bad children. Belsnickel is found primarily in Germany and Pennsylvania Dutch communities.

Le Pere Fouettard

Le Pere Fouettard is a continuation of the beating/switch theme. Found in southern France, Le Pere Fouettard is said to travel the countryside punishing children who have been bad during the year. There are several origin stories for the character, all of which suggest that Le Pere Fouettard had once been violent to children and had to accompany St. Nickolaus as punishment.

The Legend in Popular Culture

While America tends overlook the darker sides of the Santa Clause legend, the imagery is present. Images have been used in comedic works ranging from the Venture Brothers to the Colbert Report (see the companions of Santa Clause entry on wikipedia for a broader list). Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab and other independent perfumeries have used various companion imagery as the basis of perfumes. In certain areas of Europe, it is still traditional to celebrate these companions on their own days throughout December