Thursday, December 24, 2009

Day XXIV - Krampus

Furry Yule figure,
Punishes naughty children,
Cruelty at Christmas.

Making his appearance in December, Krampus is the frightening figure of Central European folklore believed to be a member of St. Nicholas' seasonal entourage. Unlike good old St. Nick, the horned beast likes to roam the streets with his rusty chains and bells rattling, eager to unnerve people during the festive period, punishing naughty children instead of giving out presents. The Anti-Santa is believed to beat wicked whippersnappers with a birch rod and in extreme cases is understood to dump sinner kids in a basket to be despatched to Hell. Basically, he's the biggest bah humbug of the mythological world: so mean and nasty that not even the Nazis could supplant his dread-grip on Austria in the 1930s. Alpine communities continue to hold winter festivals and hunts in honour of Krampus: way more appealing as a Yuletide icon than that red-suited, obese dude with a white beard.

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