Authors: Kate Wolford,Guy Burtenshaw,Jill Corddry,Elise Forier Edie,Patrick Evans,Scott Farrell,Caren Gussoff,Mark Mills,Lissa Sloan,Elizabeth Twist
The Joy and Terror of the Season
For bad children, a lump of coal from Santa is positively light punishment when Krampus is ready and waiting to beat them with a stick, wrap them in chains, and drag them down to hell—all with St. Nick’s encouragement and approval.
holds within its pages twelve tales of Krampus triumphant, usurped, befriended, and much more. From evil children (and adults) who get their due, to those who pull one over on the ancient “Christmas Devil.” From historic Europe, to the North Pole, to present day American suburbia, these all new stories embark on a revitalization of the Krampus tradition.
Whether you choose to read
over twelve dark and scary nights or devour it in one
of joy and terror, these stories are sure to add chills and magic to any winter’s reading.
“A kaleidoscope of Krampus tales featuring enjoyable twists and turns. Imaginative and entertaining.”
— Monte Beauchamp,
Krampus: The Devil of Christmas
“Twelve enthralling tales that turn the lights out on Christmas, and dance with folklore in the dark.”
— Kristina Wojtaszek, author of
Twelve Nights of Krampus
Edited by Kate Wolford
World Weaver Press
No part of this text may be reproduced, transmitted, down-loaded, decompiled, reverse engineered, or stored in or introduced into any information storage and retrieval system, in any form or by any means, whether electronic or mechanical, now known or hereinafter invented, without the express written permission of World Weaver Press.
KRAMPUSNACHT: TWELVE NIGHTS OF KRAMPUS Copyright © 2014 Kate Wolford
Published by World Weaver Press
Publishing Editor: Eileen Wiedbrauk
Cover illustration by Searing Limb (Connor Anderson)
Cover layout by World Weaver Press
Also available in paperback - ISBN-13: 978-0692314746
This is a work of fiction; characters and events are either fictitious or used fictitiously.
Please respect the rights of the authors and the hard work they put into writing and editing this novel: Do not copy. Do not distribute. Do not post or share online. If you like this book and want to share it with a friend, please consider buying an additional copy.
by Kate Wolford
First Night of Krampus:
by Elizabeth Twist
Second Night of Krampus:
The Wicked Child
by Elise Forier Edie
Third Night of Krampus:
by Jill Corddry
Fourth Night of Krampus:
by Colleen H. Robbins
Fifth Night of Krampus:
Ring, Little Bell, Ring
by Caren Gussoff
Sixth Night of Krampus:
by Lissa Sloan
Seventh Night of Krampus:
Santa Claus and the Little Girl Who Loved to Sing and Dance
by Patrick Evans
Eighth Night of Krampus:
Between the Eyes
by Guy Burtenshaw
Ninth Night of Krampus:
Nothing to Dread
by Jeff Provine
Tenth Night of Krampus:
by Mark Mills
Eleventh Night of Krampus:
The God Killer
by Cheresse Burke
Twelfth Night of Krampus:
A Krampus Carol
by Scott Farrell
We live in an age of the antihero. Millions worship at the bright blue altar of Walter White, meth and myth maker, whose reign as the best worst TV protagonist shows no sign of diminishing even though
is over. And, chances are, should you be a Harry Potter fan, you were far more interested in the fate of Severus Snape than that of Harry.
Game of Thrones
, which bestrides the world of entertainment like some giant straight out of George R.R. Martin’s imagination, has no true, pure characters over the age of ten.
Is it any wonder, then, that an old, dark figure, complete with horns, hoofs, and an utterly terrifying tongue, not to mention a penchant for discipline (torture?), is emerging into pop culture in the U.S.?
His name is Krampus. And this volume contains 12 stories featuring him as villain, savior, lover, dupe, and much more. But first, let’s investigate the cloven hoofed gentleman who is a companion to “The Right Jolly Old Elf.”
In case Krampus is new to you, here’s an important thing you need to know: His origins are lost in time. Be suspicious of any source purporting to tell you the “true” story of him.
To begin, let’s take a look at him: He’s easy to find. Images of Krampus are all over the Internet. He’ll always have horns—usually long and curled—so perhaps his origins can be traced back to the Greek God Pan. Pan, like Krampus, has hoofs and horns and was a wild thing of nature. Krampus, no matter how he is dressed in art or literature, is wild. (According to
National Geographic Daily News
, his name comes from
, which meant “claw” in German—other sources suggest it’s from older High German for claw. Claws can be pretty wild.) He’s animalistic, usually shown with a furry body and tail. His hideously long tongue is a bit like a snake’s and, like Satan, he brings the dark into the “Eden” people usually wish Christmas to be.
In fact, Krampus, or, “the Krampus,” is sometimes known as “The Christmas Devil” and like Satan, he is the dark, demonic, disturbing opposite of holy light. But the Krampus tradition does not represent the struggle between good and evil. Traditionally, Krampus is kind of a companion to St. Nicholas, not his adversary. Think of him as Santa’s Enforcer. For old lore has it that Krampus metes out justice to brats who deserve not toys and games but rather a good thrashing with Krampus’
, which is a bunch of twigs or branches. Truly, deeply, horrible children might get chained and dragged to Hell (or put in a giant basket and hauled to the same destination). Krampus and Hell have something of a history, according to
National Geographic Daily News
and other sources, which assert that Krampus is the son of Hel, who in Norse mythology is a kind of empress of the Land of the Dead.
(Maybe Krampus just wants lots of people at the table when he goes home to visit mom for the holidays, and that’s why he snatches up those kids. Probably not.)
Intriguingly nasty folklore, isn’t it? And just where did it come from? Saint Nick has a companion in many countries, especially in Europe, and Krampus is just one example of these. Krampus has long been popular in countries such as Germany, Austria, and Northern Italy. According to Krampus.com, “Home of the Christmas Devil,” an excellent source of all things Krampus, “The European practice of
during the winter solstice season can be traced back tens of thousands of years. Villagers across the continent dress up as animals, wild-men and mythic figures to parade and perform humorous plays. This ancient guising and masking tradition continues to this day [in Halloween costuming and celebrations].” Krampus, then, feels new to most people in the U.S., but he’s very old news to millions of people in Europe. He springs from the old pagan ways of the village, forest, and field in old cultures of old peoples.
is usually held on the Eve of Saint Nicholas Day, the latter of which remains a popular festival for families, and especially children, throughout Europe. The Night of Krampus is held on December 5, while the joyous, light, happy holiday of Saint Nicholas is held on December 6, when children enjoy treats, often found in stockings or shoes—the tradition directly connected to “hanging stockings with care” on Christmas Eve. But Krampusnacht, well, that is quite a different story. People dressed like Krampus or some other scary, folkloric figure, make a Krampus Run or
. Booze seems to play a big role in many of these celebrations, and the rowdiness and general mayhem seem to have, traditionally and currently, scared bystanders of all ages. Not surprisingly, not all parents are Krampus fans in countries where he is celebrated. Pictures of the revelry might give you a shiver of something dark, old, and more than little unholy—no matter how gentle and pedestrian the people inside those costume likely are 364 days of the year. Think of some of the worst villains, witches, and goblins in fairy tales, and you’ve got the idea of the revelry and scariness than can happen on Krampusnacht. (Although, to be clear, none of my research suggests that Krampus revelers are out to actually hurt kids.)
Over here, in the U.S. (and in much of the rest of the English-speaking world), Krampus has been on the down low for, well, forever. Our traditions, strongly influenced by Charles Dickens’
A Christmas Carol
and Clement Clarke Moore’s “A Visit from St. Nicholas,” largely focus on Christmas, and especially Saint Nick or Santa Claus. Here in the States, despite threats of lumps of coal, Santa’s companions are elves who slave happily for him up in the North Pole. Everybody loves Santa. He has no dark companions or dark side. (Unless you count the terrible way he treats Rudolph in
Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer
, the TV special. And I do count it. I really, really do. Santa doesn’t like difference.)
Doubtless, families in the U.S. with German heritage have kept Krampus alive. But most people here and in Canada, the U.K., and other English-speaking countries where Christmas is celebrated, began to be aware of Krampus a few years ago. Indeed, research about Krampus suggests that most people are only now dimly aware of him as part of Christmas lore, if they’ve heard of him at all. But nonetheless, the Krampus has arrived.
Why now? Why, in the last decade has Krampus leapt from the Alpine Region of Europe to cities like Los Angeles, Bloomington, IN; Seattle; and Edmonton, Canada? All of those cities now have Krampus celebrations. And the Internet is now awash in Krampus. You can find countless images of Krampus from the late 19th century through the early 20th, when
were especially popular. And, for the last few years, major news outlets have been doing Krampus stories, so media is spreading the message. But that doesn’t fully explain why Krampus is catching on so successfully in countries like the U.S.
Maybe, just maybe, we’ve had enough of treacly Santa Claus, whose heart is supposedly so big and full of love for all children that he’s compelled to break into their houses and leave them toys. Maybe it’s because people are so sick to death of coddled kids who aren’t allowed to play outside and blow off steam, so they scream it off in restaurants, and are, as a result, in need of a Krampus corrective. Maybe it’s because parents are sick of leaving milk and cookies for Santa and would rather leave beer and sausage for Krampus. (As far as I know, Krampus doesn’t have such a preference, but I bet he’d like beer and sausage.) And maybe parents in countries like the U.S. are sick of the lack of balance in our secular Christmas celebrations. Maybe they’ve realized that threatening to text Santa with reports of bad behavior just doesn’t do the job, and it’s time to release some old European justice—even if it’s all imaginary. And let’s face it, kids over six are going to go for Krampus big time. Kids love creepy, scary stuff. He has the potential to put the cool back into the Yule.
So there you have it: Fantastical images, an excuse for mayhem and partying, a celebration of the old folkways, and a chance to start new family traditions. Krampus is offering us all of that, and a lot of the world is listening. Plus, he’s clearly antihero material. Krampus just screams out for stories that show you his potential for narrative surprises and character twists. In this book, a dozen writers have plumbed the depths of Krampus lore and their own imaginations to bring you an array of stories that range from sly to terrifying to sweet to funny. There’s a lot of payback and justice in this book, and some of it is directed at kids and adults and some of it is directed at Krampus. You’ll see, by their notes on inspiration, that Krampus rampaged through these writers’ imaginations. In this collection, you’ll find:
“Prodigious”: A pretty cool guy named Brian has a truly transformative Krampus experience.
“The Wicked Child”: Krampus helps a lonely, rejected little girl find her true path.
“Marching Krampus”: A rotten brother gets some Krampus justice.