Into the Krampusnacht

Ava Martin, Editor in Chief

  I’ll be honest, I haven’t really been feeling the holiday spirit this year. I celebrate Christmas every year, and it just gets repetitive, you know? I wanted to spice things up. So I turned to Krampusnacht, a celebration of the European anti-Santa Claus. 

In Germanic countries, St. Nicholas day is celebrated on the eve of December 5th. If children have been good, St. Nicholas fills their shoes with candies and presents. But if they’ve been bad, legend says that a grotesque monster called Krampus will leave birch sticks instead — a warning that he’s onto them, and his reign of terror is beginning. The sack he wears is used to kidnap children who have been particularly naughty.

The Catholic church largely frowned upon these tales and saw Krampus as a version of the devil. Indeed, his Rute (bundle of birch sticks) has Pagan origins. However, that doesn’t stop people from dressing up as Krampus, drinking Schnapps, and running around the town in a tradition dubbed Krampuslauf every December 5th. 

I did not participate in a Krampus run this year (I am 5’1 and such a diminutive Krampus would be laughable). However, there is a Krampus Fest held by Martyrs, a performing arts venue in North Center, which parades attendees down Lincoln Avenue on December 10th this year. Attending this Krampuslauf is probably the best way to celebrate.

A smaller, calmer way to acknowledge the demon is to gather birch twigs and bundle them outside your front door or under a Christmas tree if you have one. Your own Rute will keep evil away and invite prosperity through the holiday season. Be aware that this is technically a form of witchcraft and has pagan origins.

It was also suggested that I watch the Krampus movie. One look at Common Sense Media told me I would NOT be doing that, as I have a weak stomach (“Demons, monsters attacking. Children in peril. Guns and shooting. Christmas tree on fire. Icicle stabbed through a monster’s eye”) but if you’re into that sort of thing, go for it. Also it has Adam Scott in it and he’s the best.

Baking Krampus cookies was a suggestion that made me laugh, but of course I had to do it. I was unable to find Krampus cookie cutters, so I made my favorite chai cookie recipe and haphazardly cut them into a demon shape. I took one bite and felt the spirit of Krampusnacht running through my bones. Highly recommend.

Lastly, wearing red and black observes Krampusnacht in a subtle, stylish way. Maybe Krampus will see that you’re wearing his colors and go easy on you this year; I wore red and black on December 5th, but you can pick any day this holiday season to pay homage to the demon.

Good luck and ensure Krampus doesn’t get you with these simple celebrations.