Although the holiday season is only beginning to get ramped up with two weeks before jolly ol’ Saint Nick arrives, we’re sure some of you have already had your fill of the Christmas season. Well, before you grab your dog, Max, and go looting the Who Village, let us introduce you to another Christmas tradition that might lift your holiday spirit a bit…say hello to Krampus.
Krampus is a character from European Alpine folklore, predominantly Austria and Switzerland. He walks on cloven feet, has horns sprouting from his forehead and sports a tongue that would make Gene Simmons blush. And what does he do with this tongue, you ask? According to legend, Krampus accompanies Santa on his rounds. Santa hands out the swag to the good kids, and Krampus hoists up the real baddies with his giant tongue and tosses them into his ‘bad kids’ basket which he totes around with him. From here he’ll either toss them in an icy river or just eat them. And you thought a lump of coal was bad. Coal isn’t a deterrent to bad behavior. Death by hypothermia or being eaten alive by a demon, now that’ll whip those little bastards into shape!
Here’s your chance to get in on the ground floor with what could be an awesome Christmas tradition. On December 5th around Austria they hold Krampuslaufs. These are parades of people dressed up like Krampus walking through the streets with noisemakers and scaring the bejesus out of the parade attendees. For an idea of what Graz, Austria’s 2010 Krampuslauf looked like, take a look at the awesome video below. Notice all the parents who dragged their little kids to this thing. Oh, nightmares will be created here. Have fun changing little Uder’s sheets after he pisses the bed in the throes of night terrors. A-1 parenting there!
But how cool would it be to start having our own Krampuslaufs here in America? It looks like a serious good time. We’ve done some research and found groups in Portland, Oregon, and Philadelphia. (Of course Philly! We remember the Eagles fans booing Santa Claus. We should have known you were Krampus people!)
In Philly Janet Finegar is helping to organize a traditional Krampuslauf. Janet is a woman after our hearts here at Dread Central: There are no Christmas lights up at her house. She does not deck her halls with boughs of holly. Instead, hundreds of rib bones left over from a neighborhood barbecue hang on a clothesline strung across her backyard. They’re bleaching in the sun.
“They have been scraped, boiled, scraped again, bleached and are now strung on strands and hanging out to dry,” she says. “They smell. Rib bones, as it turns out, are incredibly nasty.”
She will drape the bones over herself and wear them like a grisly tunic. It’s her Krampus costume.
Get yourself in gear, and maybe your city could be the next one hosting a huge parade of Krampuses (or is it Krampi?) to kick off the holiday season. Happy holidays!
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Bone up on other Christmas traditions in the comments section below!