Even in my flu induced haze, I can’t let this day go by without recognizing that all around the globe, some people are running away from Santa’s helper–Krampus–the 7 foot tall horned monster that gives Christmas beatings to naughty little girls and boys.
I remember well this day, 8 years ago, when Hubby, Naturalist, Golfer and I were strolling down a main street in Prague, looking vainly for a Dunkin’ Donuts that we’d heard was here through the expat underground. It was getting darker and darker, and then all of a sudden people filled the streets with flashing red horns on their head and tails attached to their backsides. Some carried sticks, others were wearing masks. Hubby and I were absolutely dumbfounded.
It was only when I got back to Budapest and asked my friend about it that I learned about Krampus.
The modern tradition goes something like this: On Dec. 5, the day before St. Nicholas arrives with his sack of gifts, local men dress up in goat and sheep skins, wearing elaborate hand-carved masks. They make the rounds of village houses with children. When the kids open the door, they’re frightened by Krampus-clad men waving switches at them and ringing loud cowbells. In some towns, kids are made to run a Krampus-gauntlet, dodging swats from tree branches.
The rest of the month, everywhere we saw Santa, we saw Krampus with him. At the Budapest Zoo, on a sleigh down the street, at the Christmas market…a little devil with a stick sitting right beside jolly old Saint Nick.
It gives new meaning to the phrase, “You better not laugh, you better not cry, better not pout, I’m telling you why…Santa Claus is coming to town…”
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