Friday, December 11, 2009

Krampus and St. Nikolaus

As part of our Bauernhof vacation we got to partake in a traditional visit from Krampus and St. Nikolaus. St. Nikolaus is not exactly Santa, but he is a good guy; whereas Krampus (spoken like 'Grampus') is almost devilish, and is the bad guy.

So the two come on the first Advent to visit the children. St. Nikolaus is dressed in white, wears a bishop's hat and a long white beard. He reads from a golden book all the good deeds, and bad deeds of the children. Krampus rattles a black bell, and threatens the children with a rough broom, when he hears about the bad deeds. Krampus is (and his minions) covered in black fur, draped with chains, and has a devilish face with horns. The head Grampus has four huge horns, two spiral curved horns, and two 'L' shaped horns. These masks are carved from wood and are very heavy.

So St. Nikolaus and Krampus knock on the farmhouse door and are led into the kitchen where the children and parents sit.

St. Nikolaus begins to read about each child from his book, and the three Krampus's crowd and shuffle around the kitchen while twitching their rough brooms and rattling their rough bells. Krampus makes quite an impression on the kids, and some are near tears when St. Nikolaus starts reading about their bad deeds.

Pascal, on the other hand, is smiling like crazy; he is absolutely loving the Krampus. He giggles when they threaten with their brooms.

After St. Nikolaus finishes reading from his book, he and the Krampus are offered snacks, beer and schnaps! The Krampus's take off their heavy masks, and show themselves to be 20 something year-old young men. It's probably pretty easy to find recruits for the job of Krampus, considering all you have to do is carry a heavy mask, grunt, shuffle,threaten and then drink a beer at every house you visit!

So while the one Krampus with the two big black bells around his waist is sipping his beer, Pascal sneaks up behind him trying to rattle the bells. He does it a couple of times before the other Krampus' playfully threaten to stuff him in their basket to take him away with them. Pascal certainly showed himself to be one of them in spirit!

After the snacks and drinks St. Nikolaus and the Krampus leave the house into the night. Outside is their ride: an open trailer with a roasting fire in a drum, all pulled by a rumbling tractor. The Krampus' climb in and begin to tend the fire. As the tractor pulls away into the pitch dark night, the Krampus shoot blazing red flares into the black sky.

Wow. All I can say is wow.

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