happy holidays

I think I may have posted this here a few years ago at Christmastime. Doug Skinner sent it to me. It’s from an old Austrian greeting card. According to folklore, the creature, known as the Krampus, was St. Nicholas’s “dark assistant.” He was also known as Knecht Ruprecht, Perchten, Pelznickel, Black Peter, and Klaubaur. While St. Nick went about the business of handing out treats to the good kids, the Krampus would be dispatched to punish the bad… As it’s not terribly good for business, we don’t have an equivalent these days, and the world is worse for it.

If you have a rant about Christmas, our religion of consumption, or the rotten nature of kids today, here’s the place to leave a comment.

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  1. Robert
    Posted December 24, 2007 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

    Other variations include Klaubauf, Bartel, Pelzebock, Belzeniggl, Belsnickel, Schmutzli, Rumpelklas, Bellzebub, Drapp, Buzebergt, Hanstrapp, Le Père Fouettard, Zwarte Piet or Zwarte Peter. My favorite is Hans Muff.

  2. egpenet
    Posted December 24, 2007 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

    There was a time when St. Nicholas would arrive in Amsterdam by ship accompanied by a dozen or more black “helpers” … carryover from the colonial days … but also the whole chimney thing … which actually started in Finland with the Saami people and which was brought into middle and Eastern Europe as the Finns moved south and became the Hungarians … Finno-Ugric is the language family of todays Magyars.

    Anyhow … the Finns believed that reindeer could fly and that the good and bad spirits could travel in and out of their homes via the “cimmney” of whatever vent they had for their heat. The Finns started this whole thing. And the Dutch appropriated St. Nicholas from the Greek Bishop Nicholas. And our famed American writer Washington irving made it nearly official. All that was left was for someone to write ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas … “and there ya’go” … as they say in Minnesota.

  3. Dirtgrain
    Posted December 24, 2007 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

    I want to believe in magic, but I can’t.

  4. terrygilmer
    Posted December 24, 2007 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

    Love the card but why does the Krampus have a hoof on one leg and a foot with claws on the other?

  5. John on Forest
    Posted December 24, 2007 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

    The good Santa and the bad Santa, how sweet. “…he knows if you’ve been sleeping. He knows if you’ve been bad…”

    So, when did St. Nick go it alone, just bringing lumps of coal for the bad ones?

    Although I reckon a poor family would think a lump of coal for the fire on a cold winter night to be a good gift.

    Frankly, I have always thought that the “you better be good, because it’s almost Christmas” line that parents feed their children is a byproduct of the hyperactivity those same parents instill in their children leading up to Christmas. How schizophrenic!

    So, with all the bad vapors behind us, may I wish everyone a most joyous, blessed holiday, completely full of happiness and devoid of ill thoughts.

  6. oliva
    Posted December 25, 2007 at 9:04 pm | Permalink


  7. Ol' E Cross
    Posted December 26, 2007 at 10:47 pm | Permalink

    Sorry, I’ve been shackled in a wicker basket the past few days restricted from internet access.

    A belated Merry Christmas to all.

    Oh, and I’d advise you to steer clear of Grandap Krampus hooked tongue, having first-hand knowledge of where its been.

  8. Posted December 27, 2007 at 9:36 am | Permalink

    Black Peter is also a European kids’ card game, a lot like Old Maid. This Christmas, we played with a Dutch deck and a Czech deck. Somebody else lost.

  9. mark
    Posted December 27, 2007 at 6:30 pm | Permalink

    We decided this Christmas to give in and let Clementine join the other little children in believing that we allow a fat stranger in red felt enter our home and leave gifts. No mention was made of the Krampus. We thought that we’d save that for next year.

    And that’s a good question, Terry. I have no idea why he would have one hoof and three clawed paws.

  10. Posted December 27, 2007 at 8:15 pm | Permalink

    In folklore, the Devil often has one hoof — supposedly a symbol of his divided nature (Luke 11:18). I don’t really buy that, though; there’s probably some more primal fear behind it.

    Maybe you can have a little talk with Clementine some day: gently tell her Santa doesn’t exist, and tell her about Krampus.

  11. mark
    Posted December 27, 2007 at 9:37 pm | Permalink

    I’ll have to videotape our talk and post it to YouTube.

  12. kez
    Posted December 29, 2007 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

    the little girl holding the basket of apples doesn’t seem fearful at all…

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