Thursday, December 4, 2008

Greetings from Krampus

Tomorrow night is St. Nicholas Eve, when good children in Austria, the Netherlands, and other parts of Europe leave their shoes out for St. Nicholas to fill with treats after they go to bed. But if the children haven't been all that good this year, they might also be visited by Nick's servant Krampus, a large, shaggy goat-man spirit who may beat them with a birch branch, take back their gifts, or--if they've been especially bad--toss them in his black bag and carry them off! Appreciative parents traditionally have Krampus stay for a few shots of schnapps before he trundles off to the next home.

In Austria, gangs of Krampuses lead St. Nicholas' procession through the streets. They are covered in bells and chains and have their switches at the ready. St. Nick brings up the rear of the parade and tosses candy to those terrorized townfolk who remain.

Castle in the Air imports many traditional holiday objects from Europe--perhaps we can call for Krampus to immigrate to America? After all, a simple lump of coal may not be enough of a threat to keep the little children from being naughty!

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