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Monday, August 31, 2020

Legend of Krampus: The Christmas Beast

Candy cane, bells, garlands, poinsettia, angels, Christmas tree, dancing lights, lanterns, snowman, and the iconic Santa Claus these ornaments are the traditional symbols that we often see during Christmas celebration. Along with some gatherings, parties among friends and love ones.

Krampus, Christmas Beast
Image: Wiki
Christmas is fast approaching. Children are laughing, playing, dancing, singing, and exchanging gifts to family members and friends. A feast dedicated to children and child at heart.

But what if merriment full of joy and hope turns into a night of horror?

Young and old, we all know who Santa Claus is, a kind man of big-heartedness and compassion.

With his big belly, long white beard, red clothes, ridding in his slay with reindeers, carrying his big red sack full of presents for those children who have been nice the whole year.

But have you heard of Krampus? Perhaps children from Austria know him well.

In Central European folklore, it is a character known in Austria’s Alpine Region. Krampus is described as horned hairy, usually black or brown, has cloven hooves, pointed tongue, a half-human half-goat creature. He also carries a chain that thrashes dramatically; along with it, he also holds a branch of birch or a whip that he uses to swat the children and put them in a sack or basket strapped in his back.

Nicolas also has counterparts in his European version, Belsnickle and Knecht Ruprecht, that punishes disobedient children.

Krampus, Christmas Beast
Image: Throne & Vine
It was believed that Krampus is the opposite of St. Nicholas. He had been incorporated in a Christian winter celebration. With this during December 5 (winter solstice celebration), St. Nicholas visits lovely children and gives them gifts like candies. While Krampus does otherwise, he hunts spoiled children, giving them coal as gifts; punishes them and drags them to hell to be tortured or eaten.

In Alpine Austria and some parts of Germany, known as Krampusnacht or Krampus Night, adults are wearing Krampus costumes to frightened children who misbehaved.

Since it is accustomed to offer a strong distilled fruit brandy called Krampus schnapps, men in Austria after getting drunk, will put on a horrible costume like the devil and take over the street and chase people, called Krampuslauf or Krampus run.

Meanwhile, in the 1800s, Europeans have been exchanging greeting cards highlighting Krampus. And in the year 1890s, the postcard industry paved the way to Krampuskarten.

Also called “Gruss vom Krampus” (greetings from Krampus), the cards sometimes contain witty poems and rhymes. It frequently features Krampus hunting mischievous children, placing them inside his sack, or whipping a child with his birch branch.

Years after, the representation of Krampus in greeting cards has changed. In the early 20th century, Krampus has depicted him in slaying children. Still, Krampus also has sexual overtones, pictured as a curvy woman, hitting petite men with the birch stick’s bundle and locking them in her sack. Another version of it was a grinning woman hangs a beaten Krampus holding his birch sticks and satchel behind his back. Modern versions have a more appealing creature.

In 2004, an art director and graphic designer Monte Beauchamp released a book of Krampus cards entitled Krampus: The Devil of Christmas, in 2012 a novel entitled Krampus: Gerald Brom published the Yule Lord. With this, the anthropomorphic folklore made its way to America, with modified versions that even became a film in 2015, “Krampus” a comedy horror movie from Universal Pictures.

Have you been the naughty one of the good ones? Is it Santa Claus or Krampus that will visit you this Christmas? The listing is made, and the horrible haunt is on.

Written by Kris De Vera Estrella, IFY Books

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