Behind Door #6: Grüß von Krampus!

6 December 2006 at 11:11 Leave a comment

Greetings from Krampus, St. Nicholas’s vaguely satanic-looking, central European henchman!

Sometime last year, my sister Mars got her hands on a book of mostly Austrian and Hungarian postcards from sometime around the end of the 19th century, all of which featured Krampus. A little over a year ago, Mars sent out her first Krampus cards.

With his furry pelt, hooves, horns, and a tongue to make Gene Simmons envious, Krampus seemed at home on Halloween, but Mars soon dubbed him “a creature for all seasons” and began sending out appropriately themed Krampus cards for other holidays. Last Christmas, the cards included a brief note about his origins:

Certain tradition holds that jolly old St Nick had a helper—more accurately, a henchman—Krampus.

Good little ones could expect happy gifts like new wooden clogs, iPods, felt dollies, Xboxes, and more. Ah yes! Anything for those sweet kiddie-pies!

But OH, the very naughty children! What could they expect? Nothing so benign as a lump of coal in their stockings or a gift certificate to JC Penny’s! Oh no! With his birch switch Krampus would come for them. If the child had only misbehaved, they might merely be disciplined with that wicked switch, but those who were truly bad had a different, more terrible fate in store for them. Krampus would carry them away never ever to be seen again. Alas! If only they had eaten all their sprouts!

Every December 5th, the toodly folk of Salzburg, Austria still celebrate Krampuslauf or the Running of the Krampus. What a delightful and instructional spectacle it must be!

Not content to merely wander the Vienna woods, Krampus has arrived in the US. Even as I type this, San Franciscans are celebrating KrampusNacht.

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Entry filed under: Folklore, Julkalendar.

Behind Door #5: Curses Foiled Again Behind Door #7: Book Lust

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