I apologise for the tardiness of my latest Blogvent Calendar. My birthday yesterday was a little more bacchanalian than I expected, so self-discipline has broken down somewhat. I hope Krampus does not come for me with his switch…
Today is the Eve of the Feast of Saint Nicholas: Krampusnacht. Where Santa Claus rewards good children with gifts of material wealth, his demonic shadow Krampus punishes bad children with gifts of material welts. Some, as in this greetings card, he stuffs into a basket and carries away into the night.
That’s the legend anyway. Whatever the truth of it, Krampus runs are big in Austria and other parts of Central Europe. They are beginning to catch on in the States. Here in this country too the seaside town of Whitby, already noted for its gothic associations thanks to a certain novel by Bram Stoker, now hosts an annual such parade.
This figure has found his way into popular and literary culture by way of horror fiction and cinema. In the first of these posts, I mentioned Paul Finch’s collection, The Christmas You Deserve, which contains the story ‘Krampus’, and there is a 2015 film of the same name, but not based on Paul’s story. Krampus also takes centre stage in the Inside No.9 episode ‘The Devil of Christmas‘, an amusing yet genuinely eerie parody of stagey studio-bound nineteen seventies TV horror in the mould of Brian Clemens’ Thriller, The Stone Tape or the Dead of Night episode ‘The Exorcism’, complete with a pseudo-DVD commentary from a has-been director voiced by Derek Jacobi.
Finally, a mention for my own offering on this subject, the novelette-length chapbook How I Learned the Truth About Krampus.
Krampus is a horned, anthropomorphic figure of legend with a classic half-goat half-demonic appearance. The night of the 5th December is Krampusnacht, when this hairy devil appears on the streets – on his own or accompanying St. Nicholas, but always carrying a bundle of birch twigs ready to punish those who have misbehaved. At least, that’s how the folk-festivals that take place across Europe go. The truth may be stranger still. This is a sharp and intelligently written horror story that delves deep into seasonal mythology and folk legend. An atmospheric and chilling tale of the dark side of the winter season.
If this back-cover blurb or Andy Sawyer’s review in The Future Fire suggest this book might appeal to you or a loved one you might be looking to buy a seasonal gift for, why not click on the image above, of David Rix’s stunning cover design to get yourself a copy!