Krampus – pre-Christian right of passage tale

11 Dec


Snow snow snow

Snow snow snow

I woke up to this this morning, which I admit is a lovely thing if you don’t have to drive or tramp around much in the slush that forms during the course of the day. I still insist on hating winter most of the time, but on days like today, when the world is muffled in white, it’s hard to hate.

I found out, meanwhile, what those monsters were all about from the weekend. Yes, wikipedia really has an article on everything. The creature is called a Krampus. And as I learned: “The history of the Krampus figure stretches back to pre-Christian Germanic traditions. It is believed that the tradition of donning the costume of Krampus came about as part of a coming of age ritual for young men.They would be sent off into the forest/mountains with not much more than a small sack of provisions – similar to many coming-to-manhood traditions still found in various iterations all over the world. He comes back down to the village after his time in the wild dressed as Krampus, embodying the wild spirit he took with him from this time living as a wild animal in the woods. Attempting to frighten young children was a test of the mettle of the children of the village, and also part of their coming-of-age process to demonstrate their bravery in front of the horned man from the mountains.”

And in fact this explains the whole parade of them and how they acted on Sunday afternoon – yelling and shouting and making a lot of noise. Apparently they have been celebrated a while now on December 6th – St. Nickolaus day.

My mother-in-law told me a story: when she was little there was a similar parade and one of the “bad” boys in the little town she lived in was in fact grabbed by one of the creatures and stuffed in a sack and carried away for some time. She admitted – not really great parenting there… – but apparently highly effective. 🙂

I love some of the old images of the Krampus. Needless to say, looks quite like the creatures I saw on Sunday.

Nikolaus Krampus

Nikolaus Krampus

Old Krampus postcard (warning?)

Old Krampus postcard (warning?)

The message on the postcard above says “A greeting from Krampus.” Sheesh! What would you do if your parent sent you that?




Posted by on December 11, 2012 in Strange Happenings


Tags: , , , ,

2 responses to “Krampus – pre-Christian right of passage tale

  1. Dana

    December 15, 2014 at 12:54 pm

    They made an appearance in Munich this past weekend! Had a really awesome time watching them trample around the downtown area of Munich. Stayed for about two hours to watch them!

  2. diginibble

    December 15, 2014 at 2:23 pm

    ah…yes, I read somewhere on Saturday that they’d be around the next day and then I totally forgot to go again. Oh well, next year. 🙂


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