Guest Post by Kristen Bates
Now that Thanksgiving is over, the festivities of Christmas have officially taken over. People all around the world are dusting off their decorations and getting into the holiday mood. Santa Clauses have taken over malls and tiny elves are magically appearing on shelves of unsuspecting children. It seems as though Christmas is the season of cheer. Or is it? For children who have been extra devious this year, it looks like it’s going to be the season of fear. While St. Nick knew when you were awake and was watching while you slept, he had a sidekick that was taking extra careful notes of your behavior too. Krampus has made his list and checked it twice. You better hope you’re not on that list.
Every year, Krampus hunts children from St. Nick’s naughty list and punishes them with a rod of birch. His German name, Krampen, means “claw” and originates from the times of Germanic Paganism. Because he was heralded as evil and often compared to the devil, the celebrations of Krampus were outlawed by the Catholic Church in the 12th century and again around 1934 after the Austrian Civil War. However, the celebrations of Krampus returned and are still recognized to this day.
The description of Krampus in folklore has changed over the centuries but his demon-like appearance has remained constant. He is shown as a hairy beast with the typical cloven hooves and large horns. Along with the rod of birch, Krampus carries chains and bells to let children know he has arrived. In some folklore, he is considered the son of the Norse god of the Underworld, Hel – which makes him even more terrifying. Basically, he has the physical appearance of pure evil.
Technically, Krampus is not celebrated on the Christmas holiday. Most celebrations take place on the evening of December 5th, which gives Krampus an entire season to punish misbehaved children. The celebration, called Krampusnacht, honors the creature by having several people dress up as Krampus and scare others during the festival. These festivals honor Krampus and serve as a reminder to kids to behave.
Thanks to the internet, the popularity of Krampus in America has increased over the years. Krampus has been making his way into several festivals that have popped up over the country. Perhaps the American Christmas tradition will continue to make room for the old but exciting ritual of Krampusnacht. Who needs an elf to report to Santa when Krampus is already watching?
Be sure to check out some Krampus festivals in your area this week and get in the holiday spirit with some good ol’ Krampus scaring. If your Krampus urges have not been satisfied, be sure to check out our newest anthology: He Sees You When He's Creepin': Tales of Krampus. Order yourself a copy, cozy up to the fire with a nice cup of hot chocolate and delve into the wonderful and scary stories that this anthology has to offer.
Kristen Bates is a college student who loves to read and write. Star Wars is her primary obsession but she loves all things science fiction, fantasy, and speculative fiction. Kristen hates writing in third person but can be talked into doing it on occasion. Find her on Twitter: @kristenkelly1
World Weaver Press
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