‘Better watch out; better not cry. Scream, maybe.’
Naughty? Nice? It’s all the same to the Krampus. Not being of German descent, the Krampus hadn’t really registered on my Holiday Radar Screen. (Though I did, oddly enough, have a purse with his image on it — that’s it in the photo above.) But then the New York Times ran a piece on Mr. K, a character who makes Mr. Scrooge seem like Bambi.
Here’s the piece for you to read: ‘He Sees You When You’re Sleeping, and Gives You Nightmares’. Though I would recommend waiting till after you read this post. And even then I would make sure there are no kids around, especially if you play the embedded video. Sheesh! Those wacky Germans!
See, the Krampus is like the Polar Opposite (pun intended) of Santa Claus. True, Santa also checks his ‘list’ to see who’s been ‘naughty’ and ‘nice’, but you kind of get the general idea that he would cut you some slack. I mean, when was the last time you actually got a lump of coal in your stocking? Or when there really weren’t any presents under the tree?
But if Santa is sort of the ‘carrot’ to good behavior at Christmas, the Krampus is definitely the ‘stick’. In fact, he carries a bundle of sticks to beat Bad Children. But even if he didn’t, wouldn’t the sight of a hulking beast draped in a sheep or goat skin (sometimes boar) and wearing a carved wooded mask with many sharp pointy teeth be enough?
Apparently the Germans (the Bavarians, to be specific) like to have parades where a bunch of Krampuses (Krampi?) march along ringing bells while growling and threatening people with those aforementioned sticks. They bring their little kids to these. For fun.
Makes me ever so grateful to have been raised a Half-Swede. At least the Swedes only torture you with Weird Holiday Foods. Just ask the non-Swede Dude how he feels about korv (greasy, tough, sort of ‘blech’). Or, if you want a really funny reaction, ask him about lutefisk (!) This is a traditional dish comprised of a bowl of custard with a hunk of limestone-soil-cured fish buried in it.
My Gramma used to love to pass the lutefisk to unsuspecting Christmas-dinner Newbies and watch their faces as they politely dug in. (For more on interesting Swedish cuisine, check out my post ‘Proof that Swedes are Genuises’. Hint: it’s not the food.)
And yes, we did have Santa at those Peterson Christmases. Oddly enough, one of the Uncles used to disappear right before Santa showed up. We always felt sorry for that Uncle, and put his presents in a pitiful little pile for later when he returned from whatever mysterious errand was so all-fired important that it took him away from Santa.
Here’s hoping all of you are either not Bavarian-German, or have been very good this year. So you can have a jolly Krampus-free Christmas. And a most joyous New Year too, of course.
And don’t forget, if you’re stumped for last-minute gift ideas (today is Christmas Eve, so it’s officially ‘Last-Minute’), hang on to your coal and consider stuffing those stockings with the gift that keeps on giving (at least till I get sick and tired of writing this stuff): a subscription to lutheranliar.com
Just enter his/her email address in the ‘Subscribe’ box on my homepage, and your grateful giftee will receive a fresh shiny-new story each Tuesday. I promise not to tell that you didn’t spend a single cent. It’s the thought that counts, after all.
And, speaking of thoughts, don’t forget to share yours. My comments box is always open. Even on holidays.
New York City. December 2014