Weihnachtenalptraum / by mrm

I feel that the mythical world is seeping into mine.

I think it's generally agreed upon by the participants that in the U.S., Christmas is a wildly commercial but generally cheerful and chocolaty time. Despite the warning to misbehavers of no presents and coal in their stockings, the threat is assumed by all to be idle. Santa Claus is a gentle man, willing to forgive your sins and transgressions. Sort of an older, fatter, jollier Jesus. In parts of Germany, however, there are still links to a wilder and weirder time. Santa Claus has henchmen, and not your usual toy-making elves, tiny and non-threatening in curly-toed shoes. In the Bavarian Alps, children are threatened with the Krampus.

The Krampus is Santa's helper. He metes out the punishment that jolly old S.C. just can't bring himself to inflict. In the Alpine towns, usually around the 5th or 6th of December, the young men dress as the Krampus, and walk through the street, chasing children and occasionally young women. They look scary (imagine if you were about four or five years old, and this happened in your house, or if you were walking to school one morning, and you saw this coming down the road towards you). Long-toothed terrifying demons with long horns, clanking bells and waving sticks!

I think if I had been a child in such a town, this would have given me nightmares for life.

(a thousand thanks to Maxi, without whom I never would have dreamt of any of this.)