By, A.B Collier
Christmas is coming and little expectant faces have no doubt been staring up at you for MONTHS, asking if Santa will bring whatever tat YouTubers have been promoting in the run up to the festive season (elasti-plasti slime anyone?) In the past, I’ve been able to use ‘phoning Santa’ at the first sign of bad behaviour to get my boys to behave. However, with some recent escalations in the eldest child’s naughtiness, I think I need to kick things up a notch. Clearly, threats to call Santa in the face of spending EIGHTY POUNDS on V-bucks are not having the desired effect (can all us parents collectively agree that in-game purchases are the work of the devil? I’m looking at you, Fortnite). So this year for the first time I’m introducing Krampus to my household. If telling on the kids to holly-jolly-bowl-full-of-jelly Santa isn’t working anymore, then maybe telling on the kids to a hairy, hooved, fanged anti-Santa will…?
Parenting level = expert.
If you have never heard about the legend of Krampus, then get a pen and paper ready to take notes and go hide behind your couch…now.
Krampus is well known across Central Europe and is a companion to Santa in countries like Austria, Slovakia and the Czech Republic. Where good old Saint Nick is giving out gifts to the nice girls and boys, Krampus is in the background punishing those who have been naughty. We’re all familiar in the UK with the Coca-Cola truck version of Santa Claus; lover of red clothes, smiling, plump, happy and ruddy cheeked (my God, I’ve just described myself – though I’m a bit less bearded), but do you know what Krampus looks like? (Get your pen and paper ready.) Krampus is half demon- half goat, he is tall, brown/black, hairy, horned, hooved, fanged, has a long, pointed tongue and carries heavy, clanking chains. Basically, he looks like something from an Aphex Twin video – he will eat your soul. Fact.
In the ‘lighter’ versions of the legend of Krampus, he hands out coal to the naughty children or swats at them with birch branches called ‘ruten’. In the, frankly, terrifying versions of the legend, Krampus carries a basket on his back to put the naughty kids in so he can either eat them or take them directly to hell. At this point, I think I might just use the lighter Krampus stories for my boys. I can sleep at night knowing they’re thinking about the risk of getting a lump of coal over the much coveted elasti-plasti slime if they don’t behave. I don’t think anyone in my household would ever sleep again if they thought a sly in-game purchase would lead to them getting chucked in a basket by a demon and taken to hell. Just saying.
What I like about the Krampus legend is that it also has a link to my favourite mythology, the Norse mythology. It’s said that Krampus is the son of Hel, a goddess that oversees hel (not a typo, the actual name of her realm) in Niflheim and welcomes the dead. Hel is one of Loki’s children (side note: I love Marvel films, but get your facts straight, Loki is Odin’s brother, not Thor’s brother – that information is guaranteed points in a pub quiz one day), her brothers being ‘Fenrir the wolf’ and ‘Jörmungandr the serpent’. I still think ‘Pete the architect’ is the best brother to have and he would have kicked arse all over Asgard given half a chance (hi Pete!)
Since we’re on Odin, did you know that one of his many names, he has 170, is ‘jolfaðr’ (again, store this one away for pub quiz points)? That translates into ‘Yule father’…leading us right back to Yuletide and all things festive. Having looked into how the pagans celebrated Yuletide, I’ve decided I’m ready to get on board with them. You get to light a lot of bonfires, drink cider, douse things in cider, they brought about the mistletoe tradition (yay, pagan snogging!) and it’s pretty Goddess-centric what with the birth of the sun being celebrated – well done Pagans, slaying the patriarchy from ye olden days. All this and with the celebration of the Winter Solstice, you know it’s time to dust off your bikinis as we’re on our way back to summer again. Also sarongs to cover up said bikinis, because I’m over 40 and have carried two kids. #truth
I hope you celebrate Christmas in your own unique way with the ones you love. Don’t panic about my house, I know it sounds like my kids are going to be weeping in fear from Krampus whilst I hose down the house in cider wearing an ill-fitting bikini, but I promise we’re a bit more traditional than that. By the 24th December I can guarantee I’ll be in tartan pyjamas, watching Elf then trying to get two excited small boys to go to sleep. Though this year I might throw on a pair of horns just for fun and huckle them upstairs, Krampus-style…ho, ho, grrrrrrrrrrrrrr.