Krampus may creep up over Christmas

With Santa Claus hogging most of the holiday glory it should come as no surprise that there's another Christmas character lurking beneath the surface of the festive season.

His name is Krampus, and he's a bad Santa that puts Billy Bob Thornton's 2003 seasonal movie to shame.

Decked out in horns, dark hair and fangs, this anti-St. Nicholas carries a chain and bells instead of a sack full of presents, along with a bundle of birch sticks he uses to swat naughty girls and boys. Once they've been punished, he hauls them into his underworld.

Krampus, whose name is derived from the German word for claw, is part of a centuries old Christmas tradition.

According to folklore, Krampus shows up in towns the night before Dec. 6, which is known as Krampusnacht or Krampus Night. Dec. 6 happens to be Nikolaustag, or St. Nicholas Day, when German children look outside their door to see if the shoe or boot they put out the night before contains presents, a reward for good behaviour, or a rod for bad behaviour.

In Austria, Germany, Hungary, Slovenia and the Czech Republic, people take part in a Krampus Run and are chased through the streets by drunken men dressed as devils.

Krampus has enjoyed a comeback of late among people who want to celebrate the season without the religious or spiritual connotations.

All well and good, but perhaps this ghoulish character that's put a dark spin on Christmas for hundreds of years has never fallen out of favour.

For some, Krampus is the seasonal depression that slips into the back of their minds every year, reminding them of what they've lost or never had.

Krampus could even live in the over-commercialization that has become Christmas, where the emphasis is on spending money rather than time with loved ones.

The character has become the victim of this in Austria, where Krampus chocolates, horns and figurines have become all the rage.

Maybe the best way to ward off Krampus this Christmas is to share a moment of goodwill with someone you don't know and a few words of peace and love with family and friends.

After all, isn't that what Christmas is all about?

© Copyright 2018 Kamloops Daily News

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