Last year here at Dangerous Minds we declared that Krampus had hit the American mainstream, and just a couple of weeks ago we told you “fuck the elf on the shelf, here’s Krampus in the corner.” As we begin to see the department stores trot out their Christmas wares, we are reminded that Krampustime will soon be upon us.
If you’re looking for a Krampusnacht gift for someone special, we have a suggestion:
Feral House has just published the definitive work on Krampus and assorted other dark pagan Yuletide terrors. The exhaustively-researched The Krampus and the Old, Dark Christmas: Roots and Rebirth of the Folkloric Devil by Al Ridenour explores the origins of the Krampus myth, its recent popularization in the United States, the various celebrations and traditions associated with the creature, as well as similar European Christmas beasts.
Click here to order this title via Amazon.
Krampus, for anyone out of the loop, is a horned, anthropomorphic, demon-like creature who, according to Alpine folklore, is a companion to Saint Nicholas. He acts as the yin to Santa’s yang—punishing the naughty children while Saint Nicholas rewards the good. Krampus provides the dark balance to Saint Nicholas’ light. Traditionally, Krampus is thought to beat naughty children with sticks. Children that have been extra bad are treated more severely: they are stuffed into bags and thrown into the river. It’s really quite a brilliant legend: if your kids are misbehaving, scare the shit out of them with the threat of being flogged and tortured by the Christmas devil!
The Krampus and the Old, Dark Christmas: Roots and Rebirth of the Folkloric Devil is jam-packed with information on the history and meaning of the Krampus as well as scads of photos and art prints. The dozens of photos of celebrants of myriad regional-variant Yuletide festivals in bizarre and terrifying costumes is worth the price of admission alone. Award-winning designer Sean Tejaratchi has laid everything out gorgeously, augmenting Ridenour’s thoughtful analysis. I really can’t recommend this highly enough. If you have any interest in the subject, this book is simply a must-have.
More Krampus after the jumpus…