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December 7, 2006

Happy St Nick’s Day and Watch Out For Krampus

nicholas.jpgIt’s Saint Nikolaus day today, which is hugely meaningful to Northern and Eastern European kindergartners (although I am sure it would be an easy sell to our kids.) This day is devoted to sweets, feasting (in some cases) and legends of the shy Saint.

Saint Nikolaus (we spell it Nicholas) is the precursor to Santa Claus, whose name is derived from the Dutch word “sinterklaas”. You can read about the day on Traditio in Radice, where one family gives us the history of St. Nick as well as the custom of putting out their shoes (or boots, depending on greed levels) on the Eve of the Feast which is also something of a celebration.

krampus.jpgYou may know of St. Nick but he has an alter ego in Europe - an evil troll named Krampus who threatens to take naughty kids away in a wooden backpack unless St. Nikolaus saves the day. This year there has been great concern in Austria over just how frightening both figures are: Krampus, for his part, is terrifying and St. Nick is also a little menacing to the average seven year old.

Now only adults who the children know will be allowed to appear in schools dressed as St. Nikolaus. Krampus, usually played by drunk and boisterous teenagers, has to chill out.

Happy St. Nicholas Day, readers.

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Posted by William Lozito at December 7, 2006 9:23 AM
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