Good evening, friends! I don’t know if it’s the same for you, but I absolutely adore myths and folklore stories from all over the world. It feels cozy and every time I hear one, I picture myself sitting next to a fireplace, on a fluffy carpet holding a hot tea. Yule (or Christmas, depending on your beliefs) is approaching and with that, few fancy stories to tell. Grab a tea and make yourself comfortable, we’re flying north…Let’s meet the Krampus.
On the 5th of December, in many northern regions (mostly German-speaking areas) it is customary to celebrate the “Krampusnacht“. The creature protagonist of this is the “Krampus“, which means “dead” or “claw” depending on the region. Some find this creature quite creepy and terrifying… But that’s the effect that it should sort to achieve its purpose, after all! (Not so scary to me, I’m quite a fan honestly!). Some studies believe that this creature probably originates from some sort of early horned God, which was later absorbed into the Devil concept in Christian culture and Saint Nicholas.
This story starts many years ago in a small mountain village, where the winter season was the worst in terms of survival, especially for poor families. For this reason, during lean times, a group of children used to dress up as little devils to scare the people from other villages and steal their winter’s provisions. Plot twist: one day, the children realized that among them, there was a fraud. They were right because the Devil himself was there taking advantage of their scaring masks to blend in. Saint Nicholas the Bishop was charged with exorcising the village from the evil. Once the lesson was learned, those children started to march with St. Nicholas, dressed like little devils, looking for naughty children to punish. Those who were good instead were given candies.
This legend started the traditional parade of the 5th of December, celebrated mostly in Austria, Northern Italy (Trentino), Southern Germany and USA. During this parade, people use to march dressed up as Krampus: the leader is obviously St. Nicholas, that judges the behaviour of the children during the past year. Following him, punishment to the children judged as naughty were given by an army of Krampus . The parade ends at sunset when St. Nicholas goes away and lets the Krampus free to do their job.
As you probably noticed, this story is a mix of Christian and Pagan beliefs. The belief itself probably comes from ancient pagan tradition to pray the horned God (or forest spirits, depending on the stories) given the upcoming winter to ensure a good harvest and fertility. Then, over time, cultures mixed somehow giving life at the current legend of the Krampus. Church actually detaches itself from this legend, because it doesn’t accept that an evil figure such as the Devil could “collaborate” with a Saint whose reputation is full of solidarity and good acts.
As mentioned, today the Krampusnacht is still celebrated in some areas, and it’s actually a fun and amusing event to join. Probably we won’t be able to attend to it this year because of the current pandemic. However, I totally suggest participating in the next years to come. You can find information about events and such doing quick research on Google. Here’s an example.
Before saying goodbye, I’d like to point out a fun fact. Surfing on the web, I found a lot of German cards from early/mid century that show a female version of the Krampus punishing bad men. Here’s an example:
Have a magical week and you’d really “better watch out” 😛
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