Naughty or Nice?
As a kid in America, I knew from Christmas carols that Santa Claus checks his list twice, and on Christmas Eve brings presents to good children and lumps of coal to bad children. While coal isn’t especially intimidating, the lure of presents never failed in our household.
Living in Austria, I’ve discovered another tradition, called Krampus, and while I’m sure parents everywhere who celebrate Christmas appreciate the disciplinary leverage afforded by Old Saint Nicholas, I can guarantee the Krampus is more effective.
As the tradition goes, during the first weeks of December, Krampus and St Nikolaus visit the homes of children to ask whether they have been good. Good children get small gifts from St Nikolaus. Bad children must face the Krampus.
A hairy creature with two long horns and a skeletal, demonic visage with fangs and pointy teeth, the Krampus carries large bells and chains in its gnarled claws, making noise to frighten children (even more) as he accompanies St Nikolaus and punishes the bad children.
I don’t know about you, but if I were a kid, I would find this guy more persuasive than the threat of a lump of coal.
Originally, each village would have one Krampus and one St Nikolaus visiting the homes of children (usually at the request of the parents – go figure), but like many traditions, the Krampus Lauf has grown into an annual spectacle and now constitutes a full-blown parade.
This year’s Krampus Lauf in Graz featured plenty of demons, bells, chains, flares, fire and crying children. Fortunately for the kids, the Adventmarkt offered plenty of holiday cheer in the form of lights, sweets, toys, Maroni and a carousel to lighten the mood.
As for us grown-ups, we brought along our Advent mugs to fill with steaming hot Glühwein, Most and Punsch. Frohes Fest indeed.
(images by me)