When I was in high school, my German teacher shared a Christmas story that I’ll never forget. He told us the tale of Krampus, the Christmas Devil.
Krampus has several variations depending on the place but almost every Germanic country has their own version. In some countries, he is Santa’s helper. In early December, he visits children who misbehave and torments them. His name comes from the word Krampen, which is German for claw. If you’ve seen pictures of this guy, claws are the least of your worries! My teacher told us that when he was a child, Krampus stuffed him into a burlap sack, dragged him down a flight of stairs and then beat him with reeds! (He had a reputation for being crazy but he was a brilliant man). My Opa is German and NEVER told me about him!! Maybe it’s because I was so well behaved! There are people who dress up in elaborate costumes and parade through towns around December 5 & 6. They carry torches, bells, pitchforks and even shoot off fireworks.
Krampus has started to trickle into North America. Chris and I, along with some of our friends, get a big kick out of observing Krampusnacht. In November of 2009, we took a trip to Germany and Austria and while we were in Vienna, we searched all over for Krampus! The city has a huge Christmas Market in front of City Hall and we got a few dirty looks when we asked about him! We finally found some shops that had some stuff so we brought some Christmas Devils home and he’s scattered around the house.
We have one little guy who hangs out in the 6 square of our Christmas countdown calendar to remind us all to behave! He even has his reeds! It’s a silly but fun tradition.
Krampus has a pretty bad ass website that you can check out. NPR did a great article this year about a group of women from Philly who are trying to start a Krampus Parade. You can even see a video of Krampusnacht celebrations. There’s also a really great Etsy shop that specializes in all things Krampus so you can get your hands on your own Christmas Devil!
Well, it’s about time to hit the sack. Sweet Dreams! I hope you’ve all been good….