“Satan? I am not Satan!" the beast growled. "I am Krampus, the Lord of Yule. Now if you do not get out of my way, I will tear out your heart and eat it!” ― Brom, Krampus: The Yule Lord
Like many traditions that have hit the mainstream in the past years, the celebration of St Niklaus’ horned helper Krampus has only grown. A Scandinavian tradition that dates back to pre-Germanic paganism, it has been brought to North American shores with the popularity of the film in recent years.
On the night of December 5th (also known as Krampusnacht) Krampus and St Niklaus visit homes all night. Like on Christmas Eve, children are told if they are good, they will get toys and treats and if they are naughty, they will receive coal. On Krampusnacht, and throughout the holiday season, Krampus can be found punishing naughty children. This can be by beating them with birch branches or they can simply disappear, stuffed into his sack and taken back to his lair never to see their families again. In other words...don’t be a brat, and Krampus will not need to visit you.
But for those of us who sympathize with the beast and think he’s been given a rough time, there is the Krampuslauf. A celebration of the Lord of Yule, a Krampuslauf is a procession or parade, made of costumed characters who want to scare out the negative aspects of the old year and 'ring in' the New Year with various types of bells.
This is the eighth year of the Edmonton Krampuslauf and hundreds of people turned out to see the events on the cold night of December 7th. The first part of the evening included a fire show by Demon and Sisu van Hell. All I could find myself saying was "I am the god of hellfire and I bring you…FIRE!". The dynamic of the group is mesmerizing, from Sisu’s fire spinning and dancing, to the balls of fire that Demon was producing. This will be a fire show I will not soon forget.
Once we had been fully warmed up the fires of Demon and Sisu van Hell, the Krampuslauf began. The leading of the Lauf included a Krampus on an ATV with a child in a cage being pulled behind. It was most fitting considering the lore but onlookers may have been scared or confused to see the creatures that emerged from inside Ritchie Community Hall. Attendees of the event would stop to take photos of the Krampus characters or would interact by shaking bells and pretending to be scared as the beasts would run up to you. There is generally an offering of Schnapps. but since this is a family friendly event this was not partaken in.
For those who have never been to a Lauf, be prepared for laughs and thrills. To be dazzled by performers and the beautiful costumes each person has made. As we are prewarned before the event; we are unable to control or guarantee what the Krampus’ will do…. especially to children who have been naughty, you have been warned.
Written and photographed by Alli Pickard