Dear Readers: Profit-center activities have left me busy, and a bit tired. However, I wanted to share a few items related to the appearance of Charles Caesar/Doo Doo Economic’s friend JH Northrop, who will be sharing the history behind Krampus – The Yule Lord, as part of this weeks Thursday – Canto Talk (7 pm PST, 9 pm CT, 10 pm EST, click here for show).
As a person who loves Halloween best as a holiday, I have to say I find the concept of Krampus intriguing:
JH explains it this way: As an amateur historian and a nominal Christian I enjoy finding where the pre-ChristMass traditions have still held through. I’m curious what the further background is, but my neo-pagan friends are mostly clueless about it & I can’t afford a trip to europe at this time to trackdown a shaman to teach me… If they even still know.
Krampus is a beast-like creature from the folklore of Alpine countries thought to punish bad children during the Christmas season, in contrast with Saint Nicholas, who rewards nice ones with gifts. Krampus is said to capture particularly naughty children in his sack and carry them away to his lair.
Krampus is represented as a beast-like creature, generally demonic in appearance. The creature has roots in Germanic folklore. Traditionally young men dress up as the Krampus in Austria, southern Bavaria, South Tyrol, Hungary, Slovenia and Croatia during the first week of December, particularly on the evening of 5 December, and roam the streets frightening children with rusty chains and bells. Krampus is featured on holiday greeting cards called Krampuskarten. There are many names for Krampus, as well as many regional variations in portrayal and celebration.
The history of the Krampus figure stretches back to pre-Christian Germanic traditions. He also shares characteristics with the satyrs of Greek mythology. The early Catholic Church discouraged celebrations based around the wild goat-like creatures, and during the Inquisition efforts were made to stamp them out. However, Krampus figures persisted, and by the 17th century Krampus had been incorporated into Christian winter celebrations by pairing them with St. Nicholas.
It is believed that the tradition of donning the costume of Krampus came about as part of a coming of age ritual for young men. They would be sent off into the forest/mountains with not much more than a small sack of provisions – similar to many coming-to-manhood traditions still found in various iterations all over the world. He comes back down to the village after his time in the wild dressed as Krampus, embodying the wild spirit he took with him from this time living as a wild animal in the woods. Attempting to frighten young children was a test of the mettle of the children of the village, and also part of their coming-of-age process to demonstrate their bravery in front of the horned man from the mountains.
There is a piece on 10 FUN FACTS ABOUT KRAMPUS that includes this tidbit:
Krampus is St. Nick’s right hand man: a good cop/bad cop team of pure emotional torture. If it’s decided you’re good (AND you pass a grueling pop-quiz on religious catechism, in some traditions), the gifts are yours. If not, you are swiftly whipped raw and right to the edge of death by Krampus’ unrelenting birch rods. St. Nick — the Don Michael Corleone in this fucked-up relationship – -looks on but keeps his hands clean. He’s a saint, after all.
The Etsy blog has an entire post devoted to the subject, with an array of old-fashioned postcards that feature the Yule Lord.– Krampus: The Darker Side of Christmas
If you’ve ever been on the naughty side of Santa’s list, be warned: there’s worse in store for you than broken twigs and the disappointment of an unidentified black rock. If you live in the remote Alpine villages of Austria and Hungary, you’ll have to face up to Santa Claus’s muscle, the hooved, horned and goat-draped Krampus.
Krampus roaming the streets, terrorizing the youth.
Be afraid. Be very, very afraid.
These demonic Christmas cryptids, along with a wide variety of other nefarious aides and companions, have accompanied Saint Nicholas on his gift-giving journeys in the Central and Eastern European Alps for hundreds of years. Cloven feet aside, these monstrous figures (really local youths with a love for tradition, with some casual sadism thrown in) are quite frightening to see, brandishing chains, whips, and switches at the townsfolk. According to Der Spiegel, “On December 5, the day before St. Nicholas arrives with his sack of gifts, local men dress up in goat and sheep skins, wearing elaborate hand-carved masks. They make the rounds of village houses with children. When the kids open the door, they’re frightened by Krampus-clad men waving switches at them and ringing loud cowbells. In some towns, kids are made to run a Krampus-gauntlet, dodging swats from tree branches.”
This should be a fascinating show!