|A vintage Krampus card.|
As part of the Witches Yuletide Ball, fellow blogger Aine of “The Deepest Well” posted about the darker aspects of Yule.
When we think of Yule, most of us think happy thoughts, such as trees sparkling with lights, friends and family get-togethers, singing, gifts and warm fireplaces. For our ancestors, however, this time of year was dark and cold. All the food they had harvested and stored away was all the food that was to be had until the Spring. During these long winters, tales were told of the faeries and malevolent spirits who were waiting in the dark night for a wandering human to cross their paths.
One of my favorite “dark aspects” of the Yuletide season is Krampus. He basically does Santa’s dirty work and punishes naughty children. Of course, by today’s standards, what Krampus does seems extreme, but when you consider what slacking or goofing off could mean to our ancestors… If a child routinely refused to do his or her chores, it could have meant a harder than usual winter. It could have meant death. Figures like Krampus were necessary to keep kids in order while St. Nick rewarded those who did their jobs well. I’m having trouble finding any online sources about possible pre-Christian Krampus traditions, but it’s hard to deny he represents the life or death realities of pre-industrial societies.
Since learning of Krampus, I’ve been fascinated with him. I was delighted to hear a segment about him on NPR yesterday. In particular, it examines how Krampus traditions are coming to America! I would love to go and even take part in a Krampus parade. I enjoy lights and joy just as much as the next person, but this season can become too sugary sweet at times. It is nice to take a step back and face the harsher realities of winter but have fun while doing it.
I’ll end this post with what is becoming a yearly tradition for me – sharing this corny Krampus video.