It’s time once again for that fabled hybrid figure that is said to be an amalgamate of goat and demon to haunt the minds of mice, men, and children of all ages across the globe, especially if they have had any inclinations towards the “naughty” spectrum of behavior during the year: Make no mistake about it – KRAMPUS comes TONIGHT!
KRAMPUS folklore and celebrations traditionally hail from German and Austrian society, and the very name is derived from the German word krampen, meaning “claw.” The mythology of the horned and snake-tongued creature is grounded in pre-Germanic paganism that extends back into the 1600s. Legend has it that Krampus is the wicked beat soldier and enforcer for Saint Nicholas, who, as it turns out, is too much of a jolly goodie-two-shoes to do his own dirty work on the eve of Krampusnacht (December 5th). Thus, the task of dealing and dispensing penal retribution to misbehaving children is left up to the ruby-eyed demon, who will either provide a few on-the-spot lashes of his birch switch, or dump the kicking offenders into his Burlap or laced-kindle sack and whisk them off never to be seen again. Oh, the yearning for the simple lump of coal…
But the fame and allure of Krampus has spread across both oceans and time to arrive on distant shores and among cultures alien to itself. Today, the tradition is experiencing renewed interest and an elevated resurgence in countries like Slovenia, Hungary, the Czech Republic, and yes, you guessed it—the United States (or why else would I be tapping away on the old keyboard about it?)
In 2014, to my delight, I unexpectedly ran across a Krampus event in progress in Los Angeles when friend and frequent film collaborator, Mike Valinsky, took me on a tour of Echo Park that was in the midst of a transformation from a tight-nit Latino neighborhood into a trendy enclave. As it turned out, we’d stumbled upon the second event of its kind on the west coast, and the very beginning of the centuries-old tradition migrating to the United States from the old world. The event had only been conceived the previous year by artist Al Guerrero and Krampus expert Al Ridenour.
This year the good folk at Krampus Los Angeles are hosting their annual celebration on December 7th in Alpine Village (home of an annual Oktoberfest). The Krampus Run or “Krampuslauf” (6-7PM) is free and open to the public, but the KRAMPUS BALL (from 7PM) requires an advance ticket purchase. There will be food, drink, and roving performers from 7-9pm, followed by a curated stage-show from 9-midnight (if you dare!). Full details at krampuslosangeles.com
And while you’re at it, now is a good time to re-visit my review of Michael Dougherty’s 2015 cinematic take on the subject matter, then point your browser to these streaming platforms to watch the film: Youtube | Amazon Prime | iTunes | Google Play | Vudu. Or, simply pop that dusty DVD into your rusty deck if you still have it (I do).
Oh, and BTW, don’t forget to hide your naughty nephews and nasty nieces from Santa’s enforcer… Who are we kidding—Krampus will find them wherever you stash them. So give them a final kiss goodbye when you tuck them in for their last night…
S W I S H H H H! (that’s gonna leave a mark)