You surely recognize good St. Nicholas.
But do you recognize his opposite, the evil devil Krampus?
Every child in Austria knows about this demon, but I first learned of him only a few weeks ago when my hosts in Vienna gave me these chocolate figures and told me to eat Krampus -- the one with horns, chains, and claws -- only on December 6.
Dec. 6 is St. Nicholas Day but the night before is Krampusnacht, which looks to me to be a scary night to be out on the streets of Austria and some of the surrounding countries.
I can't begin to explain it well, having never experienced it, so I ask you to read some of these really interesting articles (with great photos!).
BTW, apparently this year there is a spurt of interest in all this in America too!
An explanation from the Archdiocese of Vienna, in German: Der Krampus hat mit dem Hl. Nikolaus eigentlich nichts zu tun
In German: Von altem Brauchtum bis Alpenerotik
From National Geographic:
Krampus the Christmas Devil Is Coming to More Towns. So Where's He From?
Another from National Geographic: How Krampus, the Christmas ‘Devil,’ Became Cool
Official trailer for the new American horror-comedy movie "Krampus"
("Legendary Pictures’ Krampus, a darkly festive tale of a yuletide ghoul, reveals an irreverently twisted side to the holiday.
his dysfunctional family clashes over the holidays, young Max (Emjay
Anthony) is disillusioned and turns his back on Christmas. Little does
he know, this lack of festive spirit has unleashed the wrath of Krampus:
a demonic force of ancient evil intent on punishing non-believers.
hell breaks loose as beloved holiday icons take on a monstrous life of
their own, laying siege to the fractured family’s home and forcing them
to fight for each other if they hope to survive")
Merisi Vienna's blog post: Saint Nicholas and Krampus: Were you naughty or nice?
Bolzano Daily Photo, South Tyrol / Italy offers a short video (narrated in Ladin language!) of the actual festivities on Krampusnacht in the village of Urtijëi / St. Ulrich / Ortise.
Good luck. Be good. Watch out tonight!
And tomorrow, a happy St. Nicholas Day!