Krampuslauf: Santa’s Demon Parade

The American Santa Claus is an amalgamation of the European concepts of Saint Nicholas and Father Christmas: the former, a catholic saint who goes around giving presents on his feast day of December 6th and the latter, a personification of Christmas itself. But, as a story on NPR highlights, something was lost during the translation into Santa Claus: in Europe, Saint Nicholas was usually accompanied by some evil creature that punished the bad kids. In the Netherlands, it was Black Pete, a Moor from Spain who would kidnap bad kids — the Spanish were the main Dutch enemy for a long period of history. In France, it was The Whipping Father, who gave those same kids a well-deserved flogging for Christmas.

But by far the best is in Switzerland and Austria, where the yang to Saint Nicholas’ yin is the krampus. This is a straight-up demon, complete with hooves and horns, that like Black Pete, kidnaps bad children. Unlike Black Pete, who turns them into Spanish slaves, the krampus feasts on them. So naturally, in the Austrian city of Graz, there’s a scary Christmas parade called Krampuslauf that’s full of the beasts — a real-life nightmare before Christmas. As an 8-minute video of it shows, the costumes are terrific and terrifying, and the kids gets pretty scared. The tradition is making its way across the Atlantic too: Philadelphia had its first Krampuslauf on the 10th. Unfortunately, the Austrian version set the bar a little high, and the Philadelphian one’s production value left much to be desired.

From YouTube, via NPR


  1. A Krampus Carol | Apt46 - pingback on December 15, 2011 at 8:37 pm

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