Advent Day 4 : Pre Krampusnacht activities

Krampus v.1, Q. Cassetti, 2010, pen and ink, From the second advent projectOh yeah. Tomorrow is the evening that that jolly old demon visits all the frightened little children and beautiful young women in Austria and Hungary…shaking his chains, and brandishing his birch twigs to beat the children for their misdeeds all year. Oh, and if that isnt enough, Krampus also doubles as the boogie man, and will take those bad children away from their warm hearths and loving parents if the badness cannot be assuaged by beatings and fear. What fun! Another rollicking add to the Holidays! A tidbit from Wikipedia fleshes this out:

Krampus is a mythical creature. In various regions of the world – especially Austria and Hungary – it is believed that Krampus accompanies St. Nicholas during the Christmas season, warning and punishing bad children, in contrast to St. Nicholas, who gives gifts to good children. Due to German and Austrian influence, the myth of Krampus is also prevalent in CroatiaSlovakiaSlovenia and northern Italy.

The word Krampus originates from the Old High German word for claw (Krampen). In the Alpine regions, Krampus is represented by a demon-like creature. 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.[1] In some rural areas the tradition also includes birching – corporal punishment with a birch rod – by Krampus, especially of young girls. Images of Krampus usually show him with a basket on his back used to carry away bad children and dump them into the pits of Hell.

Modern Krampus costumes consist of Larve (wooden masks), sheep’s skin, and horns. Considerable effort goes into the manufacture of the hand-crafted masks, and many younger adults in rural communities compete in the Krampus events.

In Oberstdorf, in the alpine southwestern part of Bavaria, the tradition of der Wilde Mann (“the wild man”) is kept alive. He is like Krampus in that he is dressed in fur and frightens children (and adults) with rusty chains and bells, but has no horns, and is not an assistant of Saint Nicholas.

In the aftermath of the Austrian Civil War the Krampus tradition was a target of Austrian Fascists allied with Nazi Germany.[2]