Review of THE KRAMPUS AND THE OLD DARK CHRISTMAS – ROOTS AND REBIRTH OF THE FOLKLORIC DEVIL
November 20, 2016
Straight up, I’ve always hated Christmas. Holidays are traditionally miserable times for me. A fat man in a red suit and family grief are not my ideas of fun. When it comes to The Krampus, I thought it was just some hipster shit. Just some cool, vintage German X-mas cards that I saw on Tumblr. I would make fun of it in my head.
When I make fun of something in my head, a pattern shows this will be something that in the future I will be all about. I should just know by now to be open minded. Someday I’ll learn.
Let’s start here…..I found this definition on urbandictionary.com
Krampus: A creature of legend who aided St. Nicholas, one of the inspirations for Santa Claus. Some say he aided St. Nick, others say he went after the naughty children the night before he came, the Anti-Santa Claus, deliverer of coal, spankings, kidnapping truly evil children in his big black sack to never be seen again.
Al Ridenour has written a fascinating book that goes deep into the background and history of this holiday legend.
Part gothic horror and part black metal, The Krampus is an old world legend. For the uninitiated, The Krampus is a folkloric devil usually associated with Saint Nicholas. It comes from the Alpine regions of Germany and Austria. Supposedly a horned figure, with fangs, hooves, a pointed tongue (half goat, half demon among many other forms) he punishes the bad kids during Christmas. Sometimes he is draped in chains and sometimes carries a whip. He is also known to carry a sack to put the bad kids in.
The Krampus is basically Santa’s demon cousin. Instead of lumps of coal, he disembowels naughty children or beats them with sticks or throws them into bags and tosses them into the river or maybe hunts them for sport.
After reading Ridenour’s book, I’m not surprised Christmas has some dark roots that couldn’t have come from anywhere but the Germanic regions of Europe. And, of course, the church helped spin the legend.
I can’t help but think American children would benefit more from The Krampus over Santa. At least I would have judging from how impressionable I was as a kid and knowing how much Night of the Living Dead messed me up as a 5 year old, The Krampus would have made me behave like a saint
So many variations on the legend in this book, I guarantee there is one out there designed to frighten everyone. I think I found 7 that scare the piss out of me even as an adult.
As I started writing this review, I started reading the book for the second time. I’m fascinated by the imagery and descriptions found in this book. It is incredibly well put together.
I also found myself curious about the author, Al Ridenour. I looked him up. I found that he is into taxidermy and created a multi media performance group called The Art of Bleeding. You all should look that up for yourselves.
This book is perfect in my eyes. It educated me to something I know what to know more about. I can’t wait to see what book Ridenour puts out next. The man wears his obsessions on his sleeve.