Tired of twinkly, saccharine celebrations, but not feeling exactly like being the next Festivus-come-lately? Ah, then perhaps what you want is a winter celebration of child thieving!
Via NPR, we learn:
There are no Christmas lights up at Janet Finegar’s house in the Northern Liberties neighborhood of Philadelphia. She does not deck her halls with boughs of holly. Instead, hundreds of rib bones leftover from a neighborhood barbecue hang on a clothesline strung across her backyard. They’re bleaching in the sun.
“They have been scraped, boiled, scraped again, bleached and are now strung on strands and hanging out to dry,” she says. “They smell. Rib bones, as it turns out, are incredibly nasty.”
She will drape the bones over herself and wear them like a grisly tunic. It’s her Krampus costume...
The Krampus is a character from European Alpine folklore, common in Austria and Switzerland. The creature stands on two hooves and has horns growing out of its skull. An extremely long tongue hangs out of its mouth, and it carries a basket to haul away naughty children.
For hundreds of years, the Krampus and Saint Nicholas have worked a kind of good cop-bad cop routine. Saint Nick rewards the good children; Krampus terrorizes the bad.
There’s an awesome video of last year’s Krampuslauf parade in Austria in the snow, and so you can really get the pointy, furry, horrible feel of the thing.
Image from and more vintage Krampus at Pushed Buttons Burning-In blog.