So maybe I’m behind the times, but I had no idea that in Europe, Santa Claus has an evil counter-part. In Austria specifically, that role is played by the Krampus, a demon who dragged naughty children to Hell.
Here’s a story on the dark side of Christmas:
Austrians have their Krampus, a ghoulish, goat-like figure that springs into action on Dec. 5. It is the task of the Krampus to tear about the countryside, threatening passersby with chains and sticks — all as a reminder to behave. The legend is re-enacted in many areas by men in frightening Krampus garb.
”It’s really an amazing sight,” said Bill Egan, a self-styled Christmas historian and regular contributor to Year ‘Round Christmas magazine. ”People are screaming and screeching like they’re watching a Freddy Krueger movie.”
“Self-styled Christmas historian” is maybe the best job title ever. Here is a terrifying contemporary visage of the Krampus, especially for comic book fans:
There are other Krampus-like figures around who are not as frightening/cool as the Krampus: The Belsnickel. Le Pere Fouettard (the whipping father). Zwarte Piet, which isn’t so much scary as is it is racist.
Does anyone have access to the New York Times’ archives? I would love to read this story, but I don’t have a subscription to access it (and it’s not on Nexis, either):
KRAMPUS DISLIKED IN FASCIST AUSTRIA; Genial Black and Red Devil, Symbol of Christmas Fun, Is Frowned Upon.
Special Correspondence, THE NEW YORK TIMES.
December 23, 1934,
Section WATCH-OVER WEEK-END CABLES, Page E2, Column , words
VIENNA, Dec. 11. — The “unco guid,” having succeeded in sowing Austria as thickly with “Verboten” orders as Germany itself, are seeking for new evils to conquer. No longer is that pleasant Austria alive of which it used to be said…
Who doesn’t love a holiday story about fascists fighting the Krampus?