Meta: How Krampus lends Christmas a dark side.
Christmas is known by many as the season of good will, festive cheer and where any number of miracles can take place, from little miracles like family members reconnecting to the miracle of life or inexplicable near death situations, which people just walk away from. Yes, Christmas truly is the most wonderful time of the year, or at least that is what we and the movies would like to believe, however as with most things in life there is a flip side to the coin and we wanted to share some of the less told but just as important dark connotations to Christmas.
First off, just like every fairy tale has a hero there must of course be a villain to overcome, and Christmas is no exception. While you are all aware of jolly old Saint Nicholas and of course, the baby Jesus, not all of you may be as familiar with the tale of Krampus. This medieval demon figure is depicted as a goat man with twisted horns, hooves for feet, a sack in which he steals children and a handful of branches to beat naughty children with. For you see in the original tales, Santa Clause didn’t dole out coal to misbehaving children. No, Krampus got to beat them or worse still he ate the offending children.
Krampus is known to predate good old Santa Clause by many hundreds of years as he was an essential part of pagan Germanic folklore and helped to keep children on the straight and narrow, especially during the long winter nights leading up to the winter solstice which is the origin for the Christmas celebrations. In later additions, Krampus was also depicted as having chains, most likely as a means to frighten young children and confuse them as to whether it was Santa Clause’sreindeers klippity klopping on their roofs or if it was the malice-filled and possibly starving Krampus.
Krampus and St Nicholas were placed together for hundreds of years within European society, helping to cement them as key partners for Christmas celebrations. Yet the reason we probably hear of Krampus far less today and therefore have far less nightmares leading up to Christmas Eve, is the fact that following the ending of the Austrian Civil War the use of Krampus within ordinary children storytelling was outlawed. The desire to wipe out all traces of Krampus continued up until the end of the 1900’s where many generations felt the need to reconnect with their old folklore and traditions and the story of Krampus wound its way back into our culture once again.
The important thing to note is that Krampus was never meant to be an evil, villainous figure he was simply meant to be the consequence for wrongdoing and misbehavior during a time when the time out corner didn’t exist. Now I’m sure you’re wondering whether the hoof sounds on your roof this year will be from Rudolf and company or if they will be from a more sinister goat horned fellow.
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