Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Happy Krampus Day!


Last year, I was thrilled to discover Krampus Day.   I wasn't thrilled enough to celebrate this holiday, but I loved learning about it   Now, Krampus Dy seems to be a day I'll remember for a long time to come. In fact, I am reposting this blog from last year just to celebrate Krampus Day.  So if you think you've seen this blog post before, you have! In America, we embrace all cultures and pull their traditions into our own culture and make it our own. I believe we should do the same for Krampus Day. It is time to begin our Krampus Day Celebrations! According to Wikipedia, "Traditionally, young men dress up as the Krampus in the first two weeks of December, particularly on the evening of 5 December, and roam the streets frightening children and women with rusty chains and bells. In some rural areas the tradition also includes birching – by Krampus, especially of young girls"   This year, this time frame is oddly meaningful to me as I'm due December 1st and if I don't have a baby boy by the 5th, we'll be taking him by force.   As a mother of two other boys who like to chase each other with bells and other nonsense, this holiday also seems oddly appropriate this year.  All I have to do is add horns and my boys will be set for Krampus day.  This is very convenient because they already have horns from their various Halloween costumes from years passed.  So this year, I'm celebrating Krampus day.  Here's some more background information for all those that missed Krampus Day last year.


Krampus is part of Austrian and Hungarian folklore and is associated with Christmas. His name, taken from the Germanic Krampen means claw. Krampus looks like and acts like the devil. He is a demon that travels with Saint Nickolas on Christmas Eve and while Santa delivers candies and treats to the good little children, Krampus delivers corporal punishment and horror to the bad little children. He provides a little extra incentive for the children to be good. Apparently in Austria, not getting presents wasn't enough to motivate children. Satan himself had to beat the children with willow branches and carry them off to hell. I think it would take about this much incentive to get my boys to stop fighting on a nightly basis, so they might be on to something.

Krampus became so popular that his story and legends spread throughout Europe and became especially popular in Croatia, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia and northern Italy. He became so popular that he earned his own holiday. Dec 5 is Krampus day. It is almost like a prolonged Devil's Night in Detroit, without the fire. On Krampus day and the days around it, young men take to the streets dressed in their most fearful Krampus costumes. They roam the streets scaring children with loud rusty bells and chains. They chase down young girls and hit them with birch branches. I feel like this would add some spice to our Christmas preparations. Who wouldn't want to be terrified by a large devil in these days leading up to Christmas? I have to say that it would make shopping a little bit less painful and it certainly sounds like more fun than black Friday! So get out your rusty chains and bells an find your ugliest mask and take to the streets. It is almost Krampus Day.

13 comments:

wicKED said...

Great post. I think I will celebrate also.... this also explains why I woke up every Christmas morning with a whipped behind.

Mantan Calaveras said...

Ah yes, I too wish to bring der Krampus to the USoA.

I believe that Krampuslauf, "the running of the krampus" happens on December fifth, specifically, because that night is St. Nicholas eve.

It's interesting, apparently Saint Nicholas had quite a following for a while, until the church decided that his popularity threatened to eclipse that of Jesus, and the church, er, de-canonized him.

My favorite story about st. Nicholas tells of his visit to a town that was besieged by a famine. And yet, when the holy man arrived he was treated to a feast. Suspicious of the provenance of the meal, St. Nicholas proceeded to the kitchen and found that the townspeople had butchered some of their children to supply the meat. At which point good old St. Nick brings the kiddies back to life.

And of course, in the lands where nordic religion predated christianity, Sinterklaas has strong associations with Odin.

According to the psychologist historian Lloyd Demause, it was common practice in earlier times for parents to dress up in dreadful costumes, and terrify their children. Apparently the popularity of this tradition was the actual origin of archetypes like "The boogeyman" and child eating witches. In fact, regions of Italy have a tradition similar to Christmas and Krampuslauf, where a witch comes to the door on Epiphany Eve, spreads treats on the floor, and beats the children with a broom whilst they scramble to collect them.

I'm sure that these traditions were the root of today's, more civilized, celebrations.

I really would like to hold a running of the Krampus here in the US, it could be a lot of fun! Haven't had time to make a mask this year, alack alack!

Little Gothic Horrors said...

Well, this was an education. I've never heard of Krampas. Hmm... I don't know about the "chase down young girls and hit them with birch branches" part. If anyone had done that to me as a young girl they would have risked said birch branch being inserted in a most uncomfortable part of their anatomy.

My husband, who is of Italian background, has heard about La Befana, the witch who brings sweets for good children, and a lump of coal for bad children. The bit about beating the kids with a broom was a new one though.

magikalseasons said...

I love Krampus & the wonderful Folklore that surrounds the Christmas devil! My boys know all about Krampus we have already been mentioning him. I also have a few ornaments in the works.

Jessica Penot said...

Wicked... glad to know I won't be the only one celebrating.

Mantan... I hope you do a Krampus post too. Your knowledge is impressive. I can't comment on your blog, for some reason blogger hates me that way, but I'll be reading your Krampus post and loving it.

Little Gothic Horrors.. Any birth the young man chased me with might also be at risk of being put someplace painful, but I would love to dress up and do a run or torment others.

magikal seasons... Let me know when you have the ornaments done. I haven't used my Etsy Christmas budget yet and would love to have some Krampus ornaments if you put them in your shop.

Brenda said...

Interesting! There are benefits here:

Agree; slightly less painful than shopping.
We'd all be on our best behavior.
Children would be forever frightened of misbehaving.

I hope you have that boy PRIOR to the 5th, Jessica!

Jessica Penot said...

Brenda... Being tortured by Krampus is definately less painful than shopping. I hope I have my boy before the 5th too. Thanks.

Adsila said...

I have not heard of this day. Nice post about it.

Justine's Halloween said...

You created such a cute and funny image of your kids running around as little Krampuses. :) I'm familiar with Krampus, in part because I'm German and know several 100% German people. I'm afraid there are a lot of stories and cultural events in Germany that really keep the kids in line. Not that there's anything wrong with well behaved children. It's just that some of this stuff leaves them traumatized!

I saw a German children's book once that would blow your mind. The way the kids in the story were punished for acting up was a little extreme. I remember some creature chopping their fingers off. When I mentioned this to some adult German friends, they said that book wasn't unusual.

On a lighter note, Congrats and good luck with your new baby! You might even have given birth by the time I've written this. :)

Jessica Penot said...

Justine: I did think the Krampus stuff would leave some children traumatized. German children must be tougher than the rest of us. Do you think your German heritage and these type of stories contributed to your love of Halloween?

Paul said...

Germanic heritage went hand in hand with fearsome childrearing right up till the end of WW 2. There was no dialogue at all in that society about raising children - there was ONE way, and it wasn't pretty!

Jonah Loeb said...

To Justine's Halloween's comment about the book:
I think the book the you are thinking about is titled " Der Struwwelpeter " by Dr. Heinr. Hoffmann

I too just discovered Krampus this year and I look forward to Americanizing it somehow. This sorta legitimizes our family tradition of setting out a smaller sad tree with Halloween decorations for Jack Skellington (ala Nightmare Before Christmas) to leave his own version of a Christmas gift for the kids on X-mas night. Usually one gift each and usually the more edgy gift of the season. But it's hard to explain to people the Jack Skellington thing to others without getting some funny looks--what, not as established as our 1930's Coca-Cola advertising idea of Santa?

Tiffany Tramutolo said...

Once I ran out of funding for my German Class in High School I nearly all but forgot about this Holiday in December then I see Brom, one of my favorite Dark Fantasy writter/ Artists Comming out with this new book Called Krumpus the Yule Lord all of a sudden it was like a ghost resurected. Of Course I immedietly thought Krumpus- Cluse because the two are connected.

I've started on a gallery project to capture that and Winter Vale. Some lore has him eating the stolen children I noticed O.o He's a very interesting character I'm On Deviant Art of you care to poke your nose around xxarokolipsexkittenxx Tush!