|Crowds gathered for the Krampus parade. Ljubljana, Slovenia.|
I almost entitled this post "Krampus, And Other Freaky Sh!t" but then I considered the children in the audience. I CAN BE CONSIDERATE LIKE THAT. Anyway, as the new title suggests, we're here to talk about Saint Nicholas, and no I don't mean Santa Claus as my American friends know it, which is as a fat man in a jolly suit. No, no, no. Here in Europe, Santa Claus/Saint Nicholas traditions vary HUGELY from country to country and region to region, and Dan and I were lucky enough to chance upon one of the weirdest ones: the Krampus parade.
What the fudge is a Krampus, you say? Well I'll tell you! Krampus is a horned devil creature who is covered in fur and has a hideous long red tongue. He wears cowbells on his behind which shall henceforth be referred to as "ass cans" (thank you Bri, for that lovely addition to my travel lexicon). Sometimes he is draped in chains, which he snaps and shakes at children to scare the bejesus out of them because they're naughty and deserve it.
"When the Krampus finds a particularly naughty child, it stuffs the child in its sack and carries the frightened thing away to its lair, presumably to devour for its Christmas dinner." Thanks, Wikipedia!
|Three Krampusse and an angel.|
Anyway, so on the evening of December 5th, Dan, myself, and our couchsurfing host Bri were coming back from a castle hike/bike ride around the city and we stopped in the center of the Old Town because we saw hundreds of families gathering around the main square. What the hell? we said unto ourselves. Then, lo and behold . . . Krampus! Dozens of them! Growling and clawing and generally harassing this poor blonde girl who was bold (stupid?) enough to stamp her foot at one of them. This foolish move brought upon her a rain of horrible nuggies, the likes of which I have never seen before and am unlikely to ever see again. I hid behind Dan because the Krampusse (that's the pluralized form) are, like, actually kind of scary. I did pop out long enough to take this video, which is of very poor quality, though you can hear some of the ass cans shaking and children howling:
There were also devils in red suits, but they were much less frightening because their "devil suits" were more like red onesies, and a lot of them were drinking beer and looking kind of bored. A while later, a man in white robes and a funny hat arrived on a four-wheeler which was being driven by a man with no shirt on. The pope? No! It was Saint Nicholas, surrounded by angels. (The shirtless driver was NOT an angel. He had leather pants on and some body paint. I'm pretty sure he just came from an S&M club. Not judging, just sayin'.) Later the angels sang and gave candies to the children, and then the parade was over. We had some mulled wine and went home.
|St. Nicholas and his devil attendants, before the shirtless man drove the PopeMobile.|
And that's the story of Krampus. Does anyone know of any other weird/freaky/funny holiday traditions around the world?