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Forget St. Nick. Krampus is Coming to Town

Jeff Myhre

Posted on December 4, 2018 09:59

4 users

The Grinch has nothing on a Central European Yuletide demon named Krampus. While Santa brings presents to the good kids, Krampus brings beatings and trips to Hell for the bad ones. I rather like the idea.

I have a real problem with the commercialization of Christmas, the gift-getting season as so many think of it. So, I take comfort in the existence of a central European tradition that brings a dark terror to the season of peace on earth and good will toward all men. No, not the Grinch. Krampus is a horned, humanoid beast who beats bad children with birch sticks or whips them with horsehair whips. Really bad children wind up in a basket or sack that Krampus takes to Hell for a year. And the best part - Santa is the one who tells his buddy Krampus who the bad kids are.

Like everything else involving Christianity and holidays, Krampus predates the arrival of the Desert God Yahweh and his resurrected son in Europe by centuries. He is the son of Hel, the ruler of the underworld in Norse mythology. Since you can't really take a holiday away from people, you adapt it to your own needs. Hence Krampus and Santa are a tag team; one punishes the bad and the other rewards the good.

On Saint Nicholas' Day (Nikolaustag, December 6), little kids in Germanic nations get up to see if they have a present in the boot or shoe that they left outside the night before (stockings hung by the chimney with care are related). But the night before is Krampusnacht, December 5-6, when Krampus shows up to punish those who have earned it.

The Catholic Church took a disliking to Krampus, and the fascists tried to get rid of him back in the 1930s because they felt he was an invention of social democrats (proving that the original fascists were as dumb as their modern-day grandchildren). But he's making a comeback thanks to a rejection of the saccharine sweetness, by some, that is modern Christmas.

Take the silliness of Santacon, a recent tradition in the US when youngish people get dressed up as Santa and go on a bar crawl. Imagine the joy when hundreds of drunk Santas descend on the New York subway.

Well, that's nothing compared to a good Krampus run. “A more modern take on the tradition in Austria, Germany, Hungary, Slovenia, and the Czech Republic involves drunken men dressed as devils, who take over the streets for a Krampuslauf — a Krampus Run of sorts, when people are chased through the streets by the 'devils'."

This would make holiday TV a lot more fun: “Krampus Beats the Peanuts Gang, Especially Lucy” or “A Krampus Toy Story” starring Woody, Buzz Lightyear and Krampus.

And going to see Santa at the mall would have Krampus keeping the kids in line while they waited. Caroling would be the reserve of Norwegian death metal bands.

The only flaw in the Krampus custom as I see it is the kids. If Krampus came to flog Congress, the CEOs of the S&P 500 and every Kardashian, it would be perfect.

Next time: How Rudolph should have renegotiated his compensation package.

Jeff Myhre

Posted on December 4, 2018 09:59

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Source: The Guardian

Xan Brooks, Henry Barnes and Peter Bradshaw review Krampus, a teen horror film about an anti-Santa who arrives to ruin Christmas...

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