Thursday, January 2, 2014

Krampus - The "Real" Story

In typical German fashion, there is a companion to St. Nicholas known as Krampus, the Black Santa. I say this is typical for the Germans as they excel is scaring children into obedience. In my mind, the entire macabre suite of Grimm Fairy Tales was designed by these rather grim brothers to warn children that if they stepped out of line they will be dealt with quite harshly.

In that same vein, Oma and Opa had a children's book called Max und Mortiz. It was in German, of course, but it had lots of pictures so when we were young, Oma would tell us the story in English.

Max and Moritz were two mischievous children that would play tricks on the villagers. Their final trick was on a farmer who was carrying sacks of grain for his ducks. The boys poked holes in the bags causing the farmer to lose all his feed. Angered by this prank, the farmer put the two boys in the bags, ground them up and fed them to the ducks.

Ah, to be German....

Well, true to form, there was a dark side to the German Christmas celebration to help parents curb the bad behavior of German children. As St.Nicholas would come and leave presents to all good boys and girls, Krampus would come a haul off all bad boys and girls.

As Santa was dressed as a jolly old elf. Krampus was dressed in black, wore chains around his body, had a sack big enough to whisk away any ill-tempered child, and had a whip just in case there was resistance.

Oma, Opa, and Dad would tell us about Krampus, but we never really bought into the story. We had a enough experience with Max and Mortiz to know that there was a slim likelihood any of us were going to be ground into duck feed, although Matt (whose name is oddly similar to Max) would have deserved it.

But one year, when I was in my late teens, we were all sitting in our family room on Christmas Eve. Oma and Opa were there and we had just finished dinner. There was a knock at the door, a real heavy knock. Dad went to go see who it was. All of a sudden we heard some loud growling and sound of someone being hit with what sounded line a newspaper.

That was odd.

Before we could get up, Dad came running from the front door being chased by a tall figure dressed all in black wearing chains, and hitting Dad with whip made of newspaper. It was Krampus!!!!

Well, really it was young Bob Wotring playing a trick on Dad. Bob was dressed in his scuba wet suit, had his face blackened with makeup, and was wearing a bicycle lock to act as chains. It was awesome. Once I find the picture I will post it on this page. 

No comments:

Post a Comment