For a walk on the wilder side of the holiday season, try Yuletide. As it’s re-enacted in Central Europe, Yuletide hearkens back to ancient European traditions of a much darker, scarier nature than we usually associate with holiday . . . cheer?
Think You’re Ready to try Yuletide? Meet Krampus.
Forget the bogeyman. Krampus is the terrifying opposite of St. Nicholas’ sweetness and light. He, too, carries a sack–but his is NOT full of toys and candy. He uses it to capture naughty children and carry them off to Hell.
The magazine The Atlantic recently posted an online slideshow of images of costumed “Krampus” figures that are a feature of Yuletide festivities in Central Europe. I chose several to share with you here, but for more explanations and images I urge you to see the whole show.
The Scariest way to Try Yuletide? By Firelight!
The men in the Krampus outfits spend hundreds of euros for their elaborate traditional costumes. Clearly lots of time and thought goes into these annual traditions. The lighting effects of torches and bonfires in the night add to Krampus figures’ menacing appearance. How many future years of therapy do you think these guys have inspired?
Scary as they may seem in the right light, The guys who design and wear these costumes probably have a load of fun doing it. I have friends who delight in putting on elaborate productions to “haunt” their yards or porches for Halloween. They have kindred spirits in the Alps, I’m sure.
You can’t tell me the guy with the “devil go-kart” didn’t build it in his garage and chortle over how cool it looks in the dark. And as for the “Krampus chariot rides”? What a rush! If you’re going to try Yuletide in its darker traditions, why not go all-in?
Try Yuletide’s “Wild Side” – But Keep a Little “St. Nicholas” in Your Heart
Scary and fearsome as they look, these guys clearly seem to be in it for the fun. Children photographed in the story may look occasionally taken aback, but they’re mostly wise to the make-believe. They know that inside the fur and under the horns, the spirit of St. Nicholas lingers in the hearts of ordinary guys who love putting on a helluva show.
Yuletide blessings to all . . . but watch out for old Krampus!
About the Author
Author Jan S. Gephardt wrote this post in 2013. In 2023 she updated the photo formats for mobile devices and adjusted the wording some to mesh with contemporary SEO standards. Jan is the Chief Cat-Herder, Manager of Weirdness, Art Director, and Marketing Director for Weird Sisters Publishing LLC. She is the author of the XK9 “Bones” Trilogy, humorous science fiction mystery novels about a pack of sapient police dogs who live on a space station.
Many thanks to The Atlantic for bringing all these photos and more together in their wonderful article by Alan Taylor. Most of the photos are by photographer Sean Gallup/Getty Images, except for the AP Photo/Kerstin Joensson. See cutlines for which is which. Many thanks to all!