Tag Archives | Krampus

Krampus: He Sees You When You’re Sleeping, and Gives You Nightmares

Moderner Krampus Kärnten3.JPG

Photo: Horst A. Kandutsch (CC)

Krampus goes mainstream, making onto the front page of the New York Times:

MUNICH — Long before parents relied on the powers of Santa Claus to monitor their children’s behavior, their counterparts in Alpine villages called on a shaggy-furred, horned creature with a fistful of bound twigs to send the message that they had better watch out.

Tom Bierbaumer recalls the trepidation he felt every Dec. 6, when the clanging of oversize cowbells signaled the arrival of the Krampus, a devilish mountain goblin who serves as an evil counterpart to the good St. Nick. He would think back over his misdeeds of past months — the days he had refused to clear the supper table, left his homework unfinished or pulled a girl’s hair.

“When you are a child, you know what you have done wrong the whole year,” said Mr. Bierbaumer, who grew up in the Bavarian Alps and now heads a Munich-based club, the Sparifankerl Pass — Bavarian dialect for “Devil’s Group” — devoted to keeping the Krampus tradition alive.

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The Truth About Krampus


We know there’s more than a few Krampus fans in the disinfoverse, so no doubt you’ll enjoy reading “the truth” about the German Alt-Santa courtesy of Al Ridenour at Atlas Obscura:

Thanks to the internet, popular American understanding of European Christmas traditions has grown by leaps and bounds over the last decades. There’s also confusion too, some of it swirling around that wily old devil, Krampus.

Accompanying St. Nicholas on his gift-giving rounds to direct a little switch-swinging intimidation toward the naughtier kids, the Krampus has become the most well-known of other Central European characters playing a similar role. Originally appearing under that name in Austria and Southern Germany, his distinctive devilish appearance is not easily confused with Northern Germany’s hooded Knecht Ruprecht or Holland’s “Moorish” Zwarte Piet (“Black Peter”).

It was in 2004, that collector Monte Beauchamp launched a series of books that did much to familiarize Americans with Krampus via reprinted collection of turn-of-the-century Krampus postcards.

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Weird Christmas Traditions

Colonel kami-samaHere at disinformation HQ we’ve long been fans of Saturnalia and Winter Solstice celebrations, and there’s a strong pro-Krampus faction to boot. There are some holiday traditions we haven’t adopted yet, however, like eating KFC for Christmas. A fine roundup from iol:

JAPAN: Chicken and cake:

Christmas is a time for joy, celebration… and KFC?

The Colonel’s chicken is a festive season must-have in Japan. It’s a tradition that began 40 years ago and, true to Japanese culture, has been passed down. More than 240 000 barrels of chicken will be sold, about four to five times the regular monthly sales.

And what would follow a takeaway Christmas lunch better than fruit cake? Covered in whipped cream, chocolate and strawberries, these highly coveted cakes have to be ordered months in advance. And any not sold after December 25 are unwanted. Unmarried women older than 25 were once called “Christmas cakes”, although this is out of favour.

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Myths of the Holidays: Who Makes Krampus Look Jovial By Comparison?

Nyssa Part 1: Loves Notes To A Stranger

Krampus by Alexey Andreev for Nyssa Part 1: Loves Notes To A Stranger

Have you noticed you can’t go far this Christmas season without seeing the krampus, a devil-like consort to Saint Nicholas? All of the sudden, the devilish fellow seems to be everywhere.

But it is far less likely that you have encountered another Christmas-time mythic character, that of Frau Perchta. She makes the Krampus seem amiable to boot.

Perchta asks,”have you been weaving your flax little girl? Have you been good? Are you eating the awful gruel and fish that are to be consumed on my holiday?” If the answer is no, the poor children are disemboweled, and their insides are stuffed with straw and stones. So, you know. Don’t mess up. By comparison to the two of them, Saint Nicholas’ ‘present’ of coal seems benign.

We may wonder what the sense is in these dark figures, during a time that we mistakenly assume should be lighthearted and merry.… Read the rest

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Krampus and Kicking the Hornets’ Nest!

From The Washington Post:

It sounds crazy, but there is good reason to suspect that this story, in the prominent South Korean newspaper Chosun Ilbo, could be true. According to the story, North Korea ordered its diplomats in some number of foreign embassies, including at least one in Eastern Europe, to sell illegal drugs on the streets. The diplomats, according to a defector who spoke to South Korean intelligence, were each sent abroad with 20 kilograms (about 44 pounds) of drugs and were told to raise $300,000 from the sales.

In case that is not weird enough for you, the diplomats were told that they were being asked to forgo their ambassadorial responsibilities in favor of pushing illicit drugs in order “to prove their loyalty and mark the birthday of nation founder Kim Il Sung on April 15.”

From the  BBC News Three men charged over Norwich ‘Oompa Loompas’ attack:

Police investigating an assault involving people dressed as Oompa Loompas have charged three men.

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Swiss Santa Claus’s Terrifying Alter-Ego Schmutzli

The harsh Germanic Santa Claus equivalent known as Krampus has seen his celebrity rise in recent years, but he’s not Northern Europe’s only the only psychologically scarring Christmas figure. Switzerland’s black-cloaked Schmutzli, also known as “the Whipping Father,” arrives each December 25th to beat and abduct children. Swissinfo says:

Known as Schmutzli in the German part of the country and Père Fouettard (from “whip”) in French, Samichlaus’s alter ego usually carries a broom of twigs for administering punishment to children.

Kurt Lussi, curator at Lucerne’s History Museum, says that the St. Nicholas custom in Switzerland became interwoven with a festival of masks dating back to pre-Christian times. Schmutzli, he says, was a symbol of the evil spirits which these ancient festivals sought to drive out with a combination of noise and light.

He gives the example of an illustration from 1486 that depicts a demon who abducts children. “This child-stealing motif returns again in Schmutzli,” he said.

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Krampus March In Austria

It's nice to remember that people around the world celebrate Christmas in different ways. Check out last year's edition of the annual Christmas parade ("Krampuslauf") in Graz, Austria, filled with local color as Krampuses (German Santa Clauses) go on parade:
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The Sacred Clowns Bring Krampus To Wisconson Protests

The Sacred Clown Union

The Sacred Clown Union

DATELINE: Madison, Wisconsin, USA. February 25

Sacred clowns came down on Wisconsin state capitol. Protesters unwittingly revived an ancient European sacred clown tradition previously thought extinct in North America. KRAMPUS!, also known as the “henchmen of Saint Nick,” were thought to be non-existent in all but a few remote Tyrolian villages, but it seems their population is actually growing “under the radar” in the American midwest spurred on by labor unrest in the face of government corruption there.
And it isn’t even Christmas!

Seems Anonymous might have some company. More on this on the Modern Mythology website.

I also received a missive from their chief organizer, in reaction to criticism that Krampus is generally known for running around, beating children. Here’s a sample:

Some of our clowns definitely take inspiration from Krampus–“the henchmen of Saint Nick” thing you find in the Austrian, German and Swiss Alps.

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