I haven’t always celebrated St. Nicholas Day, but a few years back, Sarah and I decided that it would be fun to do so, and as such, I’ve found that I love the day. I think of it as a stress-free version of Christmas: no worries about where we need to be in the morning, no racing house to house with gifts in tow – just a simple gift exchange, some candy, and Norwegian pancakes with a pinch of cardamom.
Oh yes. And Krampus.
Krampus (alternately, The Krampus) is St. Nicholas’ right hand goat man. While St. Nicholas gives gifts to the good children, Krampus gives beatings to the bad ones. What’s worse, if you are really bad, he’ll toss you in his basket and drag you to Hell. there are multiple Krampus-like characters in folklore – almost everywhere there’s a Santa, there’s a Krampus or similar fellow.
Each time I tell a parent about Krampus, they look at me like I am some kind of glowing god. It is as though I am offering them the last piece of an intricate puzzle – “we should be threatening the kids with Krampus, not just telling them to be good” says the look. Many of my friends seem to like Krampus, and I’m considering starting some sort of Krampus event in my hometown.
If I had offspring, they would learn about Krampus. Why? Because Krampus is a folkloric character that teaches that terrible things happen when you are bad. Things much worse than finding coal instead of gifts on Christmas morning. Not that I’ve ever known anyone who has received just coal…
Anyhoo, with my love of Krampus comes my annual greetings from Krampus:
Have a happy St. Nicholas Day, and watch out for horned strangers bearing switches made from birch branches 🙂