The Misunderstood Krampus
Over the last few years, the centuries-old figure of Alpine Europe, the Krampus, has become increasingly well known in the United States, thanks to books (et al) by Monte Beauchamp, and appearances on the Venture Bros, some Anthony Bourdain show or other, and the Colbert Report. As a result, the Krampus has become the subject of popular merchandise, including t-shirts, greeting cards, stickers, and figurines, leading some to assert that the Krampus, perhaps like Christmas itself, has become too commercial.
But my concern lies elsewhere. In many descriptions and depictions of the Krampus I have seen across the internet, he is frequently described as the “anti-Santa,” the villain of Christmas. That he is the Christmas Satan to Santa’s Christmas God, in some kind of Manichaean duality, that the two are locked in some kind of battle for children’s lives. This, I feel, shows a misunderstanding of the Krampus on a fundamental level.
First of all, it’s important to remember that the Krampus is the companion of Saint Nicholas. They’re on the same team. Furthermore, the chains the Krampus wears are there to remind you that he is subordinate to the Saint’s power. Whatever evil he may have once represented has been defeated, and evil has been turned to the forces of good.
Additionally, while, yes, it is the duty of the Krampus to punish naughty children, why does that make him a villain? Punishing those who have done wrong is the very central idea of justice, isn’t it? But, Benito! you say. His methods are severe! Whippings from birch branches! Carrying children off to hell! How can you defend such things?
To this I reply: these are threats, intended to scare children straight. Does he really beat children? Does he really carry them off to hell? The patron saint of children is standing right there, folks. What is justice if it is not tempered with mercy? The Krampus is a warning.
But don’t be deceived: he is clearly a powerful creature, sharp of claw and swift of foot. But despite what some would have you believe, this power isn’t dedicated to harming children: remember, he is a tool of Saint Nicholas, who is dedicated wholly to protecting children.
The Christmas season is a time of darkness, in a literal and metaphorical sense. The nights are longer, the sun slips away faster, the air is cold. People used to believe that Christmas, much like Halloween, was a time when the veil between this world and the next was very thin indeed. It was dangerous to roam the night due to the presence of fairies, witches, werewolves, goblins and trolls.
Fight fire with fire, fight monsters with monsters. You might scoff at this, but the proof is in the imagery: Krampus and his other shaggy Yuletide compatriots such as the Klaubauf are traditionally bedecked with bells. This very ancient tradition had a specific purpose: to drive off evil spirits and summon good ones. To the pre-Christian Alpine people, Krampusse and Perchten were guardians, not devils.
Finally, the story of the Krampus represents a central metaphor of Christmas: redemption, renewal, a new beginning. A woodland spirit, driven from his home by Christianization, takes revenge by murdering children, but is captured by a saint of God who teaches him the error of his ways, and now he works to protect the very children he once harmed. Christmas presents us with an opportunity to start again: the end of the year, the rebirth of the sun, the coming of a Messiah, or however you choose to interpret it. The Krampus, as well as his many other chain-bedecked repentant brethren, represent us: we messed up, we got another shot, and now we’re giving it our best. How can we demonize that?
The Krampus is good, though he is admittedly not safe. But I feel the same could be said about another figure who lives out in the wilderness, covered in fur, careening around the sky in a flying sleigh.
In short: the Krampus is a wild, unpredictable figure who works to preserve justice and peace by means of intimidating the superstitious.
He’s not the Lex Luthor to Santa’s Christmas Superman. He’s the Batman.
1. It’s SNOW Miser, not COLD Miser. There is no Cold Miser. There has never been a Cold Miser. Stop saying Cold Miser.
2. “Friends call me” vs. “They call me.” A ruthlessly efficient bit of characterization embedded into that tiny lyrical difference. One that subtly underscores the differences between them, and opens up the world of the story, grounding it, providing emotional resonance.
I can’t stop laughing at this panel what’s wrong with me
Murdering criminals is something you do for love, not money
It’s your friendly neighborhood beauty contest champion, Joey Peters. I’ve been on radio silence for the past couple months. I’ve been putting away in silence because at the end of the year I’m quitting my day job and going full time on my writing.
(Not that this stuff makes me much money, but I’ve been writing erotica under a pen name for a few years and I’m finally making real money.)
I’ve redesigned Tacolicious.net, if anyone cares. In doing that I’ve taken down a lot of my old shorts; a couple of old Victory stories of historical import, a short essay on comics history, a deimagined fairy tale or two.
That’s because over the next couple months I’ll be republishing all that stuff in new versions. Here’s a tentative list of what I hope to have up by Arisia:
The Three Little Porcine-Americans And Other Failure Tales
This will collect a few of the old weird fairy tales I wrote a few years back, a deranged South Park republican take on the Three Pigs; a straight up liberal take on the Ant and the Grasshopper; and a couple more on top of that.
A new print edition of Santa Corps, just in time for Christmas. I won’t be doing a holiday comic this year, but I still have some holiday spirit to show. Expect *something* starting the 13th.
And I will finish Starship Victory this time. The forthcoming stories are tentatively titled: Athenia Reawakend; The Maniac Planet; The Chasm In Space; and the Mystery of Earth-0.
World’s Greatest Lumberjack will be out of hiatus by Arisia. It’ll be done by con season, perhaps with a print edition too.
I’ve been sitting on a draft of Moonlight Massacres (my werewolf novel) for the better part of a year. Expect that in January.
And finally, I won’t be publishing this under my real name, but I intend to have it out by January as well… A y/a paranormal romance novel named “The Girl Outside of Time”. What I was shooting for is what if Stephanie Meyer was palely imitating Dr. Who, not Anne Rice. It’s not the most artistically satisfying work I’ve ever created, but I’ve worked hard on it.
I was just a young, unthinking teenager… when I first became… Santa Claus… But the years have a way of slipping by…of changing the world about us… and every boy… sooner or later… must put away his toys… and become… a man!
Happy Thanksgiving to all those who will be celebrating it! This year, we’re headed to Deep Space Nine where Benjamin Sisko cooked a thanksgiving dinner for all the senior staff (DS9: Blaze of Glory). Of course, as with any Thanksgiving dinner, you can’t possibly satisfy everyone and in this case it was Michael Eddington who didn’t like the stuffing and felt that Sisko had used too much tarragon.
To me, those are fighting words. I am a huge fan of tarragon and there’s not many situations where I’d think there was too much of it. I made this stuffing in a separate dish (which I recognise means it should be called dressing, not stuffing). You could also use this to stuff a turkey and cook it, but this may result in an overcooked bird while you are waiting for the stuffing to cook through. If you are one of those people who, like Michael Eddington who doesn’t like tarragon, you can always use sage or parsley instead.
Replicate your own
(Serves 4-6 as part of a larger Thanksgiving spread)
(Based on Michael Ruhlman’s ratio for Thanksgiving dressing)
Who is ready for some night terrors, care of the Golden Age?
(Clue Comics #3)
This is very important
Are Nightmare and Sleepy in the public domain
I was gonna work on an original character next, but I think I’ve found what I have to reboot next