Happy Krampus Day!
Fuck Christmas, it's time to celebrate beating bad children with a birch branches. Yes, that's right - It's Krampus day. My favorite Austrian holiday that focuses on Jolly Ol' Saint Nick's degenerate friend Krampus. He's very similar to Black Peter, in fact Black Peter was probably evolved from Krampus.
In the event that you know nothing more about this Holiday season other than it's when Big Baby Jesus was born, Saint Nicholas goes around rewarding the good boys and girls with toys and what not. This much you know already from childhood lies. But what you may not know is that Jolly Coke-Cola dressed Santa didn't do it alone, he had someone ride shotgun. A ying to his yang.
So since we have the rewards for good children covered by Nicholas, can you take an educated guess at what his partner handled? I'll give you a moment... Yeah, that's right - the punishments.
In Holland in the 15th century they came up with Black Peter. He was the dark aid to Santa and was suppose to represent the Spaniards. Given that during the period Spain's occupation of the Netherlands was prime concerns. The tales would suggest that Black Peter would come around and take the bad children with him to his pirate ship.
It's not terribly uncommon to demonize your enemies. Just look at what we're doing to all the illegal aliens in our country. We practically make them seem like Vampires. Oh wait, that's another modern monster that has its roots from people demonizing others they feel are invading their territory.
but the roots go far deeper. You see, Black Peter was just casting the person to deal out evil to their enemy, but before that, Santa's helper was Krampus. The word itself comes from 'Krampen' and is from Old High German meaning Claw. But unlike mr. Black Face racial slander over there in Black Peter, this one is from the fiery pits of hell. Just look at the following walking of the Krampi.
The Germanic peoples have always understood that you have to scare the piss out of children to keep them in line, and for that they use Krampus. The best part is that he's approved by the jolly fat guy who likes cookies to instill his brand of torture and fear in the hearts of children.
On the night before Christmas, Krampus goes around before Saint Nicholas does and starts to clear off his own list. The list of the naughtiest kids. How else would someone do this than with a switch and a basket. He goes around and takes them, throws 'em in his basket and they go with him to the pits of hell.
I have to say, this legend is completely amazing and if it worked then, why the hell aren't we using it now? I want to see a section of the mall devoted to Krampus like they do for Santa. Kids would go up to him and make their case as to why they shouldn't be beaten with a tree branch and taken to hell with him. Now that would be a better use of the season.
Krampus Night is celebrated, which is tonight. It's done so because Saint Nicholas day is on the 6th of December. So while my dream of malls with a Krampus area for photos may not be a reality, in Austria people dress up as Krampus tonight and go around the streets beating "bad" kids and women for the sake of scaring them. Gotta say, that's some good times to be had.
It's really just a matter of having a pre-christian character be the opposite of Santa to represent the winter season. That while it may bring a lot of good, you can't forget that winter can kill you. A roaming forest demon is an easy explanation for a time when folks didn't realize the elements could be reason enough to kill you.
While I had hoped to go to Austria to join in the celebration this year, that world travel aspect sure hasn't kicked in. But the biggest celebration of this day happens in the town of Schladming in Austria. Where over a thousand Krampus gather around and scare the shit out of anyone standing around. Think of it like Halloween in West Hollywood. While it may be a great day to be a dude dressed in a krampus suit, it's not a great time for the local women, who typically stay in or are the subject of the attention of the drunk Krampi.
Either way, I have to say, this is one of the better Winter festivities that I have come across in my study of cultures and humans. I love the myth of scaring kids into behaving and the whole notion that Christmas has this evil dark side that is not visited upon often is surprisingly entertaining.
So to you fine folks out there, I say Happy Krampusnacht!