St Nicholas and Krampus from Salzburg

Tonight St Nicholas is bringing gifts to kids.The brave ones will get their plates filled with sweets and little gifts, the naughty ones are getting only a piece of charcoal, but all of them will get at least one Krampus, just for instance …….

I found this Krampus troop in Salzburg (I swear they are not from my plate 😉 ), and as they are so “botanical” they deserve to be published, don’t you think so?

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8 thoughts on “St Nicholas and Krampus from Salzburg

      1. Hi, Tamara. Krampus is a main figure in a play I have kicking around and think I might make into a play-novel. He is the post-death form of Joseph Goebbels. The whole family is trying to get out of Hell to enact the reincarnation Magda promised in the bunker. But only one can. Helga, the daughter. Krampus orchestrates an attempt to steal her chance. The other one is a bit tamer. His role got given to Mephistopheles and Christ, leaving him with a bit part, which is fine, as the Mephistopheles and Christ thing lands us squarely in the Church of St. Nicholas in Leipzig and the revolution that brought down the East German state. This within a pilgrimage across the ancient road, the King’s Way, through central Germany. Krampus himself is an ancient figure from the Alps, far more ancient than Santa Claus, who plays a role in the formation of Rome, fascist Italy, contemporary systems of law, sadly Auschwitz, and even the United States. His bundle of sticks is the key. In late 19th century Austria, he was renowned as one of the few allowed public images of the great cultural ‘secret’, which was widespread prostitution (Stefan Zweig suggested it was perhaps 20% of the female population, that, at any rate, they were out, starving, by the thousands every night, offering themselves for pennies, in a society that officially pretended they were not there and countered it all by keeping its bourgeoise daughters 100% ignorant of sexuality until their wedding night, which many, understandably, found horrendously traumatic) and sexually predatory behaviour. He became represented on a whole host of child abduction and sexually nuanced Christmas cards…he is what he is. A fascinating critter. He’s now an excuse to have a bit of mardi gras, to make a lot of noise to scare away the ‘evil spirits’, and to drink lots of beer. Especially the beer. So do the ancient gods morph, depending on the society in which they are found. Expect him to change again. He’s a fine trickster character, and I should be clear: the evil attributed to him is human evil; he’s a mirror. And a very effective one, for sure. Look how his clanking chain has been transformed in the above image into a ring of sweet raisins. Aw! I’d say he’s most of the way through his next transformation already. If that’s the case, we’re entering a far more positive stage of human history. Thankfully!

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      2. Harald,thank you for this extensive explanation.I think your play is interesting in a way Bruno Bettleheim was explaining the symbolic of fairy-tales:they did survive as they are messengers of truth and they use symbolism and archetypes to illustrate what has since ewer been unchanged but what has to be rediscovered by each generation anew:the values,ethic and moral.I did not know that Krampus carries that difficult message,that he has that black story behind……in our country st Nicolas visiting kids is accompanied by angels and little crampuses.Crampus is an indoeuropean figure,representing souls of the dead in pagan times and it survived till today.And it looks like he will live on,perhaps because he is ,as you’ve said, our mirror….

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