In this session, we discuss the Krampus. Listen now.
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Gryla (The Christmas Ogress) comes to us from Icelandic mythology and is said to look like a horrific ogre (or sometimes giantess). Though not directly associated with Christmas until around the 17th century, Gryla is said to come down from the mountains during the Chirstmas season to devour naughty boys and girls. Her absolute favorite snack is naughty children and she has developed a keen sense for detecting children who have misbehaved. Needless to say, Gryla hardly ever goes hungry! The Gryla tale has been used to scare children into behaving for centuries. If you were a child and thought you’d be visited by a giant ogress looking to eat you if you misbehaved, you’d definitely be good as well.
Hans Trapp (Père Fouettard)
Bucking the trend, good ol’ Hans Trapp actually comes to us from French mythology. As the story goes, Hans Trapp actually travels with Santa Claus during the Yule season to deliver beatings to naughty children while St. Nick rewards kids who were good. The Hans Trapp legend actually has very similar ties to Krampus and Belsnickel (10 points if Dwight Schrute just popped into your head), both of whom also are said to accompany Santa Claus to the homes of children. As if the thought of getting beaten during Christmas wasn’t bad enough, tales of Hans Trapp expanded to include him developing a taste for human flesh and dressing up as a creepy old scarecrow to scare children as well. Yeah, sleep well kiddies… oh those crazy French!
Though Krampus can trace his roots to Germanic folklore, his influence has spread through much of Europe and is now even taking a foothold in the United States as well. The Krampus figure has been theorized as having pre-Christian origins and possible ties to the occult and early witch-covens. Krampus, like Hans Trapp, is said to travel with Santa Claus (St. Nick) during Christmastime to deliver beatings and punishments to those kids who have misbehaved throughout the year. In parts of Europe, while December 6 marks the celebration of St. Nicholas, the night before (December 5) is said to be Krampus Night. It is on this night the devil-like creature appears and visits homes and businesses delivering coal and spankings to those who have been naughty. Although Krampus appears in many variations, most share very common physical characteristics; namely he is usually hairy, brown or black in color, and has cloven hooves and the horns of a goat… oh and let’s not forget the long tongue!
In modern times, Krampus Night has taken on more of a celebration like atmosphere in many European countries. Adult men will usually dress up in Krampus inspired costumes and visit homes and businesses to cause mischief. There are also parades, food and of course plenty of alcohol during Krampus night as well. In recent years, Krampus has even started to become popular in the United States with things like Krampusfest in Los Angeles. Krampus is definitely on the rise and we predict his legend will only grow over the coming years… so stay tuned!
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