KRAMPUS – THE ORIGINAL BAD SANTA

Long before Billy Bob Thornton, there was a real bad santa, Krampus, the yin to St. Nick’s yang, and what a riot I had learning about this half-goat, half-demon creature that beats people into being nice. I had no idea that Krampus was anything more than an evil Santa that someone imagined and then made a movie about.

Turns out our friend, Krampus, has been around for centuries. While St. Nick is leaving sweets for the good children, Krampus is punishing the naughty ones by beating them with a birch branch or stuffing them into his sack and taking them to his lair where they will be tortured or eaten or possibly transported to hell.

Krampus

This antique greeting card depicts one version of what Krampus looks like. He has a basket to take bad children away with him. The German text reads: “Greetings from Krampus!” PHOTO: Wikimedia Commons

In fact, Krampus’ roots have nothing to do with Christmas. Instead, they date back to pre-Germanic paganism in the region. His name originates with the German krampen, which means “claw,” and tradition has it that he is the son of the Norse god of the underworld, Hel.

The legend is part of a centuries-old Christmas tradition in Germany, where Christmas celebrations begin in early December. He is also known to accompany St Nicholas in other countries, including Austria, Bavaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovenia, South Tyrol and parts of Northern Italy. 

There are variations as to how Krampus looks, however, he generally has dark hair, fangs and the cloven hooves and horns of a goat. The anti-St. Nicholas comes with a chain and bells that he lashes about, along with a bundle of birch branches meant to swat naughty children. Sometimes Krampus appears with a sack or a basket strapped to his back; this is to cart off evil children for drowning, eating, or transport to hell.

According to folklore, Krampus purportedly shows up in towns the night before December 6, known as Krampusnacht, or Krampus Night. December 6 also happens to be Nikolaustag, or St. Nicholas Day, when German children look outside their door to see if the shoe or boot they’d left out the night before contains either presents (a reward for good behavior) or a rod (bad behavior).

Krampus celebrations were suppressed for years by the Catholic Church, which forbade them, but he has made a comeback in Europe, and to a certain extent, in the United States. In addition to an appearance in local family homes, usually along with St. Nicholas, Krampus and his cohorts also gather to put on a wild show in the streets of many Austrian and Bavarian towns. The “show” is known as a Krampuslauf (Krampus run). Customs vary by locality, but the tradition goes back hundreds of years, and far, far beyond a mere lump of coal in a kid’s stocking.

In the early evening winter darkness of November and December, in towns and cities across Austria and southern Germany, you can see young children, teenagers, and adults being intimidated and scared out of their wits by people dressed as demonic, horned, goat-like, masked creatures running around with torches and instruments of torture that include twig switches and whips. In most cases, the Krampusse are running rampant, without any “good guys” around.  In Austria and elsewhere, these ugly masked Krampus figures actually lash out at people, young and old, sometimes inflicting physical injury (scratches, bruises) and always imparting a degree of mental anguish.

Some Americans have even turned to European Alpine folklore and customs and Krampusfests occur in U.S. cities from Los Angeles to Tampa, Florida. They are more family friendly and fairly tame compared to the events in Europe. In fact, I understand that one city’s Krampus event site notes: “Do not scare anyone who does not want to be scared!” That’s definitely not how it works in Austria.

If you are interested in learning more or locating a Krampusfest in your neighborhood, there are websites and Facebook pages galore to help you out. You can even buy a Krampus in the Corner instead of the Elf on a Shelf and join in the heated debate about which one is creepier.

Krampus in the Corner

Merry Christmas! I hope your Holidays are wonderful and completely Krampus free.

Debbie Boek

debbieboek.yolasite.com

ARE WE THERE YETI?

ARE WE THERE YETI?

I’ve chosen Bigfoot, aka Sasquatch, for my first monster blog, primarily because he will be the star of my sequel to Devil’s Bait, and I thought we should spend a few minutes getting familiar with him.

So, what, or who, is Bigfoot?  The simple answer is that he is a cryptid, an animal whose existence has been suggested, but has not been discovered or documented by the scientific community. Cryptids often appear in folklore and mythology, leading to stories and unfounded belief about their existence.

By most accounts he, or she, are about 7 to 8 feet tall, completely covered with hair, not fur – hair, and their arms are very long and out of proportion with their bodies, they have large heads and their offspring have been described as looking like giant puppies. They make whistling or howling noises and their screams are loud enough to knock a person off their feet.  Some reports even ascribe them with telepathic powers.

Patty

This is frame 352 of the film taken by Roger Patterson and Bob Gimlin on 10/20/67 in Northern California, allegedly depicting a female Bigfoot, known informally as “Patty”. The film’s authenticity has never been proven.

Reported sightings and stories about this creature have been occurring for hundreds of years, all over the world. Bigfoot, or one of his cousins, has been spotted on every continent except, maybe, Antarctica. Native American lore speaks of the creature as a different kind of people, rather than an animal, which commanded a special respect. In other parts of the world, there are ancient legends about hairy man-monsters that had supernatural strength.

In the U.S. there are different versions of the creature depending on the part of the country that you are in. The southeastern states use various names, Skunk Ape, Swamp Cabbage Man, Swamp Ape, Stink Ape, Louisiana Bigfoot, Florida Bigfoot, Myakka Ape and, my favorite, Swampsquatch. All reports of Bigfoot and his various cousins note a strong, unpleasant smell about them but, apparently, these southern swamp creatures are particularly pungent.

Pakistan has the Barmanou, “Big hairy One”; Central Asia and Mongolia have the Almas, “Wild Men”; India has the Mande Barung, Australia, the Yowie and, of course, there is the Yeti, aka the Abominable Snowman, which is generally found in Bhutan and Tibet. These are just a few of Bigfoot’s cousins found around the globe, all with their own unique attributes.

There have been stories about Bigfoot families kidnapping people and bringing them back to their lairs, but I wasn’t able to locate any reports where the creature actually harmed anything other than some cattle. In fact, in the late 1980’s a couple in Wisconsin insisted that they saw Bigfoot kneeling on the side of the road and holding a dead dog in his arms. According to their account, his eyes were remarkably human and it looked like he had just lost his best friend.

I found different possibilities as to how the terms, Bigfoot and Sasquatch, came to be. According to one source, Bigfoot was coined in California in the 1950’s. Jerry Crew, a road construction crewman kept finding large, unexplained, humanlike footprints and made plaster casts of the 14 – 16” prints. From then on the creature was called Big Foot.

Sasquatch is said to be a phrase that was derived by J.W. Burns in the 1920’s from indigenous words of the Chehalis Indian Reservation in British Columbia. They used soss q’atl, sokqueatl and several similar phrases to describe the creature and, from those, Burns coined the English version, Sasquatch, “wild men of the woods”.

So, the question is, are Bigfoot and his various cousins real? I find it hard to believe that there could be so many stories, from so many different parts of the world, and over such a long period of time, to not have some truth to them. How much, I can’t say.

With the world shrinking and leaving so little wilderness for anyone or anything to hide in, if Bigfoot is real, I think we’ll find out that out for sure in the next few decades. In the meantime, it might be nice if they would just take a few selfies and post them on social media so we can stop all the speculating.

I’d love to hear your thoughts or opinions on the subject.

Debbie
debbieboek.yolasite.com

I WANT TO BE STEPHEN KING WHEN I GROW UP

I know that sounds a little strange coming from a 50 something female, however, it is what it is. What I most admire about his writing is the detail and the brevity of that detail. For example, the main character walks past a man standing on the sidewalk. We’ll never hear of that man again, yet, in one quick paragraph, Stephen King can describe him so well that we know exactly who he is, his back story and why he is standing there. That, my friends, is talent.

Everything in today’s world moves so fast that it is hard to find time to sit and relax and read a good book, which is why I really appreciate his. I don’t need two full pages describing the cloud formations in the sky above the characters. I just need a general idea of the scene, which is what I get from Stephen King. He provides me with sufficient information so that I can visualize the scene, and gives me enough credit, as a reader, to be able to add more with my own imagination if I want or need to.

Sometimes, my imagination is a little too capable of doing that. For instance, when I read Salem’s Lot, I lived in the country, no street lights, no neighbors close by, just woods and darkness lit only by the stars and the moon. We raised beagles and I would put them outside in their kennel at night. But, during the time that I read Salem’s Lot and for a while after I had finished it, I slept in the living room with the dogs because I was too scared to go out into the dark by myself, and too embarrassed to tell my husband that, although I knew vampires didn’t actually exist, I just couldn’t go outside at night and take that chance just yet. That’s how real Stephen King is able to make his books.

Regardless of that incident, I do enjoy horror stories and find them intoxicating and fun, which led me to another interesting fact about Stephen King’s books. I found that there are a lot of readers, mainly women, who won’t read anything that he writes because they don’t do horror. And yet, I point out several of his works that are not horror, and these readers are amazed to find out that he was the author.

They’d never read the books, but they had seen the movies and really enjoyed them, never knowing they were based on materials written by Stephen King. Two good examples are Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile. Two very good stories which were made into two very good movies. They have dark themes but are not “horror”, so the unsuspecting watcher has now been exposed to the work of Stephen King and doesn’t even know it.

Unfortunately, these readers are missing out on so many intriguing, well-written books, just because Stephen King is the author and the story might scare them. I try to turn them around, but everyone has their own beliefs and those are not easy to change. Hopefully, they will see the error of their ways and give some of his work a try, not that he is lacking fans, I just think an avid reader is really missing out if they haven’t experienced any of his novels.

The beauty of a story is in the quality of the writing, not the genre. That is what I have learned from Stephen King, and why I have such a difficult time categorizing my own books because they cross over into different categories and genres.

I ain’t no Stephen King, but it is nice to have something to aspire to.

debbieboek.yolasite.com

Welcome

This is the post excerpt.

Thank you for joining me. I started this Blogsite to talk about the writers who have inspired me, about books, writing in general and about the monsters and urban legends that keep our imaginations fertile. I hope you will enjoy what I have to share.
You can get additional information about my books at debbieboek.com

Devil’s Gathering is now available on Amazon.com. I hope you check it out.