Krampus is returning to Ypsi this Saturday night… so you’d best start sewing your pelts and practicing your dance moves.

I’m sorry to have kept you in the dark for so long, but Ypsilanti’s sixth annual Krampus festivities are scheduled to take place the night of Saturday, December 19.

This year, like last year, things will kick off at Ypsilanti’s Dreamland Theater at 8:00, with a big, ass-shaking, anti-holiday dance party. Then, at around midnight, things will culminate in an raucous torchlit procession through the dark streets of Ypsilanti.

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Right before last year’s event, I got a call from a writer at National Geographic. She wanted to know why the people of Ypsilanti had decided, several years ago, to summon the spirit of Krampus back to earth. Now that Krampus events are becoming more commonplace around the United States, she wanted to find out where it had all started, and apparently this quest had led her back to Ypsi. We talked for half an hour or so. I told her how we were motivated, among other things, by the over-commercialization of Christmas, and the ridiculous notion put forward by religious conservatives that Christmas is “under attack” by the left. I’d like to think that I was eloquent in my explanation, and made it clear why it was only natural that this happened here, in the bizarre and magical little town of Ypsilanti. Apparently, though, none of that made the cut.

My only quote in the article was this: “We’re not devil worshipers. We’re just having a party.

I wish they’d gone into a little more detail, but I can’t really complain. It’s an accurate quote. I can actually remember saying it in the context of Ypsilanti musician Black Jake’s appearance on Telemundo. The woman from National Geographic was asking if we’d experienced any pushback from the community. I told her that I knew people weren’t universally enthusiastic about the reemergence of Krampus, and noted the fact that at least one of the people interviewed in the Telemundo piece saw Krampus as anti-Chirstian. With that said, though, I told her that we hadn’t experienced anything like that in Ypsi. “It’s not like churches are holding prayer vigils outside this event,” I told her. “People know it’s tongue-in-cheek.” But, yeah, when you boil it all down to its essence, we don’t worship the devil… we just like to drink and dance.

Here, for those of you who still aren’t sure if you’d like to attend, are five links. If you follow them, I think you’ll get a pretty good sense as to what the event is all about: 2010 recap, 2011 recap, 2012 recap, 2013 recap, 2014 recap.

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And here, if you’re unfamiliar with the backstory, is a clip from something that I posted way back in 2010, just before Ypsi became the first community in the midwest to welcome Krampus.

…I’ve been fascinated with Krampus for the past several years, since I first learned of his existence through my friend, the cultural anthropologist of all things strange and Fortean, Doug Skinner. Doug had sent me a turn-of-the-century Austrian greeting card. On it, Krampus, a large, shaggy, bipedal horned beast with wild, flaming eyes and a long red tongue, was lashing plump, rosy-cheeked children and stuffing them into sacks… I was hooked.

With Doug’s help, I began to learn about this fellow, who, in addition to “Krampus,” has gone by names such as Knecht Ruprecht, Perchten, Pelznickel, Black Peter, and Klaubaur. According to pre-Christian Alpine tradition, while old St. Nick went about the business of handing out treats to the good children at the turn of the new year, old Krampus would be dispatched to punish the bad. He, in other words, was the stick to Santa’s carrot – a tool used to ensure good behavior. Children, if they were good, would get candy and presents. And, if they weren’t, they wouldn’t just get lumps of coal come Christmas morning – they’d be thrown into the pits of hell by a cloven-footed monster covered in matted black fur. But, as brilliant of an idea as it is, for whatever reason, Krampus hasn’t made the leap to the shores of America, where all the children, regardless of how evil and disrespectful they might be, can expect to be rewarded with video games and cigarettes come yule-tide.

In countries like Croatia, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Slovenia, however, he’s still very much a part of the Christmas tradition…

So, if you get burned out on holiday parties and find that you could use an unseasonably dark release, or if you just find yourself wanting to lash out against the over-commercialization of Christmas, or even if you just like dressing up and drinking beer, come and join us as we take back the holiday season on behalf of Santa’s dark assistant…

For what it’s worth, our version isn’t terribly dark. We’re not traditionalists. We don’t chase children through the streets with birch rods. Our annual Krampus event in Ypsi is more like a glam, sci-fi monster dance party… Just imagine the cantina scene from Star Wars, only maybe a little sexier, and with a bit more spanking.

Here, to get you in the mood, if you’re not already, is Ypsi’s own Black Jake performing the local holiday favorite, Krampus Bells.

[For more information, check out our Facebook Event page.]

This entry was posted in Art and Culture, Uncategorized, Ypsilanti and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

14 Comments

  1. Posted December 14, 2015 at 10:15 pm | Permalink

    And I know the poster says it’s the fifth annual, but it’s the sixth. I just counted on my fingers twice.

  2. Posted December 14, 2015 at 10:30 pm | Permalink

    I should also mention that the event is free, and that we’ll have beer and wine for sale. And I’ll be bartending, so I don’t have to dance.

  3. G.G.
    Posted December 15, 2015 at 8:45 am | Permalink

    Do you think the recent Krampus movies help or hurt the cause? Has Krampus jumped the shark, or do you think the attention is a good thing?

  4. Aaron Wilson
    Posted December 15, 2015 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

    I recently fractured my elbow and sprained my knee in a bike commuting accident here in Jackson, but hopefully I can still make it. It’s the most wonderful time of the year! I’m glad it’s at the Dreamland, but I do miss the nasty beer that was always brewed especially for this event at Corner.

  5. Kat
    Posted December 15, 2015 at 8:45 pm | Permalink

    I saw this today and thought of you and Krampus.

    http://imgur.com/roi63Rj

  6. Peter Larson
    Posted December 16, 2015 at 1:28 am | Permalink

    Is there going to be a separate “black Krampus ball?” I would assume that all the segregationists on this blog might support one.

  7. Stupid Hick
    Posted December 17, 2015 at 10:26 am | Permalink

    Peter, you have influence with Mark. If you wanted to you may be able to convince him “to do the right thing”, sort of like how Bee and Spencer hectored Matt Altrueda into shutting down “Folk the Police”.

    The right thing is NOT to offer a separate black Krampus ball, which is not at all comparable to the EMU student demand for a black homecoming. Because nobody is asking for a black krampus party, therefore it can’t be viewed as restorative to the black community (Sorry for using the “c” word in your presence, without a trigger warning).

    IMO, the EMU black homecoming demand is completely reasonable. Black homecoming is a traditional and mainstream component of diversity programs at many universities. UM has had one since the 90s and hundreds of people attend. You don’t have to be black to go. It’s what the kids want and it’s an easy way to elevate EMU, so I support it.

    Now, back to “doing the right thing” as it relates to krampus. Does the black “community” even know about krampus? Look at the facebook page, and see who is “invited”, who is “interested”, and who is “attending”. Google “krampus ypsilanti photos” and inspect photos past events. How many black faces do you see?

    Six years in, and it still seems like a very white thing. Why is that? Do microaggressions by the MM sycophant community (the c word again, sorry Pete) discourage diversity? What can be done to integrate krampus?

  8. Krampus
    Posted December 17, 2015 at 10:37 am | Permalink

    “What can be done to integrate krampus?”

    The answer is easy. Invite your friends. I will spank all who come, regardless of color. I am a modern Krampus. I despise all equally.

  9. Frosted Flakes
    Posted December 17, 2015 at 11:05 am | Permalink

    I am not sure I am willing to declare something reasonable because it is “what UM does”, “mainsteam” and “what the kids want” .

  10. Lynne
    Posted December 17, 2015 at 11:23 am | Permalink

    Stupid Hick, I don’t know who you are but you are in danger of getting me fired at work from laughing so hard at your post. :)

  11. Jcp2
    Posted December 17, 2015 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

    Krampus should include other companions of St. Nicholas to be more diverse, like Black Pete. Come to think of it, all the companions are supposedly related to stories of Moors raiding seaside towns for slave labor, and hence, all are dark.

  12. John Galt
    Posted December 17, 2015 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

    I’m going to have an Open Carry Krampus event that’s just for overweight, carnivorous, white, conservative, straight, circumcised, non college educated, English speaking, Fox watching, Christian men between the ages of 35 and 50. It’s going to be awesome.

  13. Reverend Andrew
    Posted December 19, 2015 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

    My smartphone autocorrect knows who Krampus is…

  14. Stupid Hick
    Posted January 26, 2016 at 11:22 pm | Permalink

    I was being half sarcastic and half sincere. I think Bee and Spencer are well-meaning but are way off the mark with regard to Folk the Police. Despite that I sincerely admire Matt for appeasing his misguided white friends. He must be like Jesus. Peter has made me more thoughtful about how I use the word “community”. I was trying to provoke and I’m surprised that no feminist sycophant called me out for appropriating the term “c word”. FF, why not give the kids what they want? I don’t really care about the Krampus Ball, but I am a little curious whether it was more diverse this year. Also a little curious whether any Folk the Police detractors attended past Krampus Balls, and were they uncomfortable that no black people were there?

One Trackback

  1. By Christmas with the Krampus | It’s Hot In Here on December 23, 2015 at 11:07 pm

    […] struck me was the work so many of these people were doing; from the steadfast work of Mark Maynard at the tap, or that of the DJ’s flinging confetti on the dancers while feverishly consulting […]

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