Cousins of Krampus
Just as Santa Claus takes on different forms, even different names, depending on the culture, so too does Krampus. Sometimes Krampus isn’t Krampus at all. The role of Santa’s sidekick, in charge of disciplining naughty children, falls to an alternate character with Krampus-like characteristics. Black Pete, or “Zwarte Piet” as he is called in the Netherlands where he is known, is a nightmare of political incorrectness today, depicted as black and often portrayed by white actors in blackface. (Not a lot of black actors in the Netherlands.) This tradition arose, though, out of historical fact: Moorish pirates, who were black, would allegedly kidnap European children and sell them into slavery all throughout the Middle Ages. The Moor pirate as a bogeyman figure merged with pre-Christian pagan figures to become Black Pete.
“Knecht Ruprecht” or “Farmhand Rupert” is also, like Krampus, originally from Germanic countries. He’s sorta Krampus-light. (Ruprecht is a colloquial name for the Devil in German folklore.) Sometimes he acts as a middleman, assisting Saint Nicholas while working to keep Krampus on a leash. Ruprecht is also sometimes known as Belsnickel or Pelsnichol (literally “Nicholas in furs”), a figure in which the nastiness of Krampus and the kindness of Santa Claus are intermingled.
Krampus, by the way, is derived from the word “krampen” and means “the Claw” or “the Clawed One.”
WAYNE MILLER is the owner and creative director of EVIL CHEEZ PRODUCTIONS (www.evilcheezproductions.blogspot.com, www.facebook.com/evilcheezproductions), specializing in theatrical performances and haunted attractions. He has written, produced and directed (and occasionally acted in) over a dozen plays, most of them in the Horror and Crime genres. His first novel, THE CONFESSIONS OF SAINT CHRISTOPHER: WEREWOLF, is available for purchase at https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/734763
MORTUI VELOCES SUNT!