“We Wish you a Merry Christmas” just got creepy. Our friends over at Nola Weekend share this creepy Christmas tradition with us.
The half-goat, half-demon legendary beast, born from ancient Alpine traditions, has us feeling all types of ways this holiday season!
Photo courtesy: Krewe of Krampus
Who is Krampus?
Legend has it that he is actually Santa’s good ole’ pal- a sort of yin-yang kind of relationship if you will. According to Germanic folklore, Krampus is Saint Nicholas’ counterpart, who has the role of punishing children on Saint Nick’s naughty list.
Krampus is a demonic creature with a goat-like appearance bearing large horns, cloven hooves and dark hair. Some traditional depictions show his with one human foot and one cloven hoof.
The name is derived from the German word krampen, which means claw.
Michael Esordi, captain of the Krewe of Krampus, said Krampus is a very old European tradition with origins dating back to pre-Christian times.
“Centered in the Alps, this tradition is most commonly associated with Austria and Bavaria, but you will also find Krampus is places like Northern Italy and Hungary,” Esordi said.
What’s the legend of Krampus?
In Europe, the legend of Krampus is associated with Saint Nicholas Day, which is celebrated on Dec. 6.
The ancient Alpine tradition called Krampusnacht, or Krampus night, is when the king of Christmas nightmares reigns, traditionally on Dec. 5.
Like most legends, this one has a lesson that follows. Be good. Instead of creating an incentive like toys for children to be good all year around like Santa, Krampus seeks punishment. In terms of punishment, naughty children have no chance escaping Krampus. A child’s only hope against the creature is, of course, good behavior.
In America, Saint Nicholas morphed into Santa Claus, who became synonymous with Christmas. As a result, Christmas has become linked to the legend of Krampus.
“One New Orleans custom that we have adopted and is not seen in other Krampuslaufs is the throw,” Esordi said.
The krewe’s signature throw is a lump of decorated coal, which could be one of three colors — black, white or gold.
“In Europe, you don’t want a lump of coal, but here in New Orleans people beg us for one,” Esordi said.
For more information about the Krewe of Krampus, visit the website.
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