As I walked to my class this morning, my mind ran over how quickly the weeks were passing and how exhausted I was. Mentally ticking off the things I had to do and the obligations I had signed on to, I slumped in my chair next to P (USA-expat friend) and sighed. It must have been so audible, everyone looked at me and Conny, our Lehrerin (female teacher) asked me,”Bist du müde?” (“Are you tired?”) to which I replied with a wan smile “Sehr!” (“Very!”). She then asked, “Warum, war du oben spät mit dem Krampus?” (“Why, were you up late with the Krampus?”). And that’s when I remembered the thing on my to-do list I’d forgotten!
Krampusnacht (Krampus night) was last night (December 5th) and I’d really been looking forward to seeing the Krampus I’d been hearing so much about for the last 5 or so years. My husband often jokingly calls me a Krampus when I’m moody and irritated which I’d thought was the German word for a cranky person. Turns out, there’s a whole legend associated with it. Seems the Krampus visits the homes of naughty children on December 5th to punish them for their misdeeds throughout the year while Saint Nicholas visits the homes of good children to reward them with presents.
The tradition dates back to pagan times and is continued in Austria, Switzerland, Bavaria, Slovenia, western Croatia, and Italy. The word ‘Krampus’ originates from the old High German word Krampen (claw) and the creature is symbolized by an incubus devil. While I haven’t seen a Krampus in reality, I have seen pictures and its enough to scare the ‘bad’ right out of a kid – I mean, whatever happened to getting a lump of coal in your stocking?! Not here, the devil himself shows up at your door, shakes his clawed finger at you, scolds you for being naughty, and then paddles you with a wooden stick! Can you imagine the emotional trauma?! Then again, this is the country that created fairytales like “Cinderella“, “Hansel and Gretel“, and “Red Riding Hood“.
While disappointed that we forgot all about going out to see the Krampus, I opt to bask in the silver lining which is: since he didn’t visit me, I can be assured I was a good girl and will be receiving many lovely presents this Christmas! Other than that, I’ll have to wait until next year to try and spot this legend in the flesh myself. What about you? Have you been naughty or nice? If you lived here, would you receive a visit from the Krampus or Saint Nick?