December 10, 2017: The Krampus: Santa's Better Half
I'm a huge fan of holidays, especially Christmas, and as such, I spend a lot of time reading about the history of these days we hold dear. One of my favorite tales is that of the Krampus, which varies from culture to culture but is generally some kind of half-demon that punishes wicked children. That's right; Santa wasn't always doling out sticks and coal to bad little children; he hung out with a goat-man that wanted to whip them.
While most Americans who celebrate Christmas tend to recognize Christmas Eve and Day as the primary celebrations, there have been many variations throughout history, and a lot of them involved our demon Krampus. My favorite involves the Feast of St. Nicholas, traditionally held on December 6. In Europe, the eve of the feast, December 5, was once called Krampusnacht (Krampus Night in German, though it had different names depending on the region). This was the night Krampus visited homes and businesses to whip wicked little kids with branches or whips. He even carted some of the evil children away for potential drownings. But hey, it's all good, Saint Nicholas is there with some toys, probably, right?
So seeing as we made it past December 5, I assume you've all been good this year, and the Krampus hasn't decended on your homes. But stay on guard; the legend of the Krampus seems to be making a comeback. Featured in movies and TV (warning, potentially graphic content), and even festivals and celebrations seem to be growing in popularity for this wintery wanderer. National Geographic has a great video about the history, as well; definitely worth a view for the costumes alone. Watch your hindquarters!
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