Happy St. Nicholas Day! Today, December 6, is the day when St. Nicholas (pre-cursor to Santa Claus) visits good children and gives them gifts.
Did you know that yesterday was Krampus Day when Krampus visits bad children, beats them with birch switches, and carries them off in his sack?
Krampus is an ancient Germanic tradition still celebrated in Bavaria, Austria, the Tyrolean region of Italy, Slovenia and Croatia. Krampus is a cloven-hoofed and horned beast who carries switches to punish bad children. If the children are truly bad, he scoops them up, and puts them in a sack or large wicker basket which is attached to his back.
In some small German towns, Krampus revelers parade down the streets at night and each costume is more elaborate than the next, similar to the Mardi Gras Krewes which try to outdo each other.
Yesterday at Tavern of Fine Arts, the St. Louis Painting and Drawing Meet-up group drew Krampus. Krampus' tongue is longer than that of Steven Tyler. His shaggy fur and curved horns were truly awesome. He even carried off a baby doll in a wicker basket.
Google "Krampus" on images or look it up on Wikipedia and you will see a pagan tradition, kept alive in some backwaters of German culture.