Posts Tagged Christmas

Krampus!

That delightful fellow to the right, dear readers, is the Krampus.  Think of him as the anti Santa Claus.  He’s the one that delivers switches and coal to the bad little girls and boys.  And if they’ve really been bad enough, he will put them in a sack and take them back to his lair.

This is the time of year that the Krampus arrives to Bavarian regions and cities, shaking rusty chains, ringing bells, and reminding kids that they better be good for far more than goodness sake.  It’s the rather darker side of Christmas that doesn’t make its way into the American traditions, pagan rights that were pushed aside as the holiday was turned from a festival of darkness into a festival of light.  Traditions that date back to when this time of year was about fearing for the dying light and railing against the lengthening night.

It makes all the sense in the world that this is when demons would walk the earth.  To hell with Halloween, night on Christmas is roughly 30 minutes longer.  Which is far more cold miserable darkness to peer out the window and wonder just what might be out there, prowling.  Unseen.

In the Netherlands, as made famous by David Sedaris, Santa does not arrive with the Krampus.  Saint Nicholas, Turkish bishop now living in Spain, arrives instead with six to eight black men.  These men will kick them, beat them with switches, and collect the naughtiest children and take them back to Spain.  I’m not entirely sure if this is meant to be a punishment.  It all depends on which part of Spain.

In the United States the punishment for naughty children is to not get any presents from Santa.  Which is largely an empty threat, one that I doubt many parents actually follow through on.  Coal is threatened, but only as a supplement, a hollow warning that has none of the actual deterrent power of beatings and demonic kidnapping.  And so the entire notion of behavior-based rewards to break down.  Be nice, or Santa won’t bring you any gifts, except he will anyway.  That’s not a life lesson.  Behave or a horned demon with long fangs and glowing yellow eyes will stuff you into his sack and take you back to his lair in the mountains.  I think that’s a story that better prepare anyone for the trials of this modern life, and provides much more incentive for good behavior.

This is really what happens if you let a horror writer loose with international Christmas traditions.

So let’s all be good, at least for a few weeks.  At least while he’s prowling the lengthening night, looking for those who are misbehaving.  Because the Krampus has plenty of room in his sack.

Krampus photo retrieved from Wikipedia.  Originally released to Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license by Flickr user Annia316.

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Fortnightcap: Last Christmas

Last Christmas

A Fortnightcap by DL Thurston

Creative Commons License

Unusual Christmas Shopping Patterns Reported

December 19, 2012

Economists are forecasting a mixed bag for the retail sector this Christmas.  The overall number of consumers is at its lowest level since holiday shopping trends were first tracked, but the amount being spent by those consumers has driven the overall boon to the economy higher than last year’s recession-dampened Christmas.  One shopper, loading down his car with three massive 3D televisions and armloads of BluRay movies commented, “what else are you going to do with your money right now?  There’s no reason not to be spending every damn cent of it.  And anyway, it’s Christmas!”

This matches the general mood that retailers have seen from consumers in the past few weeks, but Christmas cheer is running out as stores are having harder and harder times keeping in-demand customer goods on the shelves.  “There’s only so many televisions,” one store manager said, “and that’s it, it’s all we’re going to get.  I don’t know what to do when we’re out and won’t be getting any more.  Lock the doors?  Hopefully people understand.”  Shortages are spreading beyond just the retail electronics sector, forcing retail outlets of all stripes to decide on their contingency plans.

For those who are staying out of the commercial realm, there looks to be a unified reasoning.  They want to spend time with family, try to focus on the things that are important, especially at a time of year that so many religions find so sacred and that even agnostics and atheists feel a special connection to.  “What’s the point of buying more things?” asked Joanne Rhea, a young mother of two who has decided not to even put a tree up this year.  “In the end it’s all just stuff, some way for materialistic assholes to keep score right up until the bitter end.”  When her children were asked if they would miss having presents to open this year, her older son just started crying.

There has been an increase in charitable giving for the first time in a decade this season, with Toys for Tots bringing in record donations.  Major Michelle Prior, spokesperson for the organization, has issued words of thanks for the increase.  “It’s great that we’re going to be able to give so many children in need the best Christmas possible.”  The bell ringers of the Salvation Army have also been getting increased donations, including no fewer than five instances of checks for over $10,000 being found in the kettles.

Many people are choosing not to spend the holiday at home this year, and are instead traveling.  This has meant long lines at the airports, especially as many security personnel have stopped showing up for work.  At Dulles, Kevin Lorne was trying to make his way through the line in time for his flight to the Bahamas.  “It’s supposed to be paradise, ya know.  I always meant to go there.  Go see the Bahamas at least once before you die, that’s what I always figure.  Just once before you die.”  The State Department has reported an uptick of passport applications, though many countries have enacted new, less restrictive travel laws in recent months.

It brings to an end a necessarily unusual year that opened with the news that an extinction-mass asteroid is on an unstoppable collision course for earth, and will end with that asteroid striking during the early hours of December 29th.

Fortnightcaps are biweekly experimentation into short form fiction. All Fortnightcaps are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License. So if you like the story, please feel free to link people back here. And if you didn’t, maybe the one in two weeks will be better.

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