Were you one of those children bored with the saccharine goodwill oozed by corporational profit-driven Christmas ad campaigns? Was the threat of getting a lump of coal and a couple of sticks not nearly enough to deter you from accumulating a hefty tally of pre-holiday misdeeds? Did you ever just look at that big, red sleigh and know something was missing? If so, allow me to introduce you to the Krampus.
Yep. That’s a baby in his bag, and he ain’t deliverin’ it, either.
The Krampus is a companion to Santa Claus in some European traditions. He’s the yin to the yang, the devil to Nick’s savior. He’s the enforcer, the allocator of punishment. The Bad Ass. In many traditions, the Krampus is more mischievous than wicked, laying down a single silver branch in lieu of presents to represent the offending child’s misdeeds. But, in other traditions, he carries a bundle of sticks for kid-whipping. In some instances he goes so far as to drag along chains, rattling out the rhythm to which he will later pummel the little ingrates. He even has a night, December fifth (or sixth, depending on where you look). Because loud, obnoxious boys like to be loud, obnoxious drunks, the holiday has been taken over by inebriated young men who dress up in their Krampiest best and take to the streets, beating the crap out of people with sticks for the hell of it. Apparently, it’s not a good night to be a young woman and need anything from the local store.
Despite his spiraling decline into an excuse to get drunk (ring a spiked, eggnogish Christmas morning bell to anyone?), I find the Krampus fascinating. Not only does this mean–oh happy day–that Santa hauls around his very own nasty demon, it also means the Krampus’ existence removes all vindictiveness from the Jolly Man’s shoulders. And I like that. Santa can forever remain the symbol of unconditional generosity, and the Krampus will deal with the putting of boots up tiny backsides.
Knowing the Krampus is wandering out there, ready to smack me in the head with a fistful of linked steel has indeed inspired me to rein it in for the next few days. Maybe even lay off the “f” word. Well, at least cut it down to every two words, or so. In case you’re still disinclined to be good, for Krampus’ sake, here are a few more images:
Thanks once again to my suitably nefarious friend, X, for turning me on to the wonders of the Krampus. Happy Krampus Day, X, and the same to all of you.