Christmas is coming, the geese are getting fat. Please put a penny in the old man’s hat.
Did you know Santa Clause has his own day? The sixth of December is the Feast of Saint Nicholas. He was a Christian Saint and a Greek Bishop of Myra. He was known as Nikolaos the Wonderworker, and has since been used as the model for our modern-day Father Christmas, Old St Nick, Santa Clause. He has many names, he is also known as the Holly King, the Green Man, The shaman, and even Odin.
He rewards the good and well-behaved children of Christendom with gifts and trinkets and sweet delights on Christ’s Mass Eve.
But, did you know, just like me and thee, he has a shadow too? What would Jolly Ole Father Christmas’s shadow look like? What could possibly be a contrasting image of Santa?
Are you sitting comfortably? Are the lights on nice and bright? Are your loved ones near? Then I shall tell you.
He has no shiny, buckled, black boots that crunch through the snow, but cloven hooves that clip and clop.
No red coat dons this man, but a tangled mass of dark fur.
He does not wear a red hat, (and if he did, it would probably be the foulest blood red) instead, two great, goat horns curl and twist.
Does he say “Ho, Ho, Ho?” Oh no, no, no, he couldn’t possibly, not with those fangs and that long, red tongue.
What about a sack full of toys? I hear you ask, he carries a sack, or sometimes a basket, over his shoulder, but it doesn’t contain toys, only the naughtiest of children.
He holds, not the reigns of a beautiful sleigh, but chains that attach him to the devil.
On the fifth of December, the part goat, part demon Krampus punishes the naughty children, whipping them with his ruten branches, or gifting coal instead of toys. Ruten bundles instead of sweet nectarines. On The eve of The Feast of Saint Nicholas, he gifts an early Christmas present to those who have been exceptionally good. But, God help ye merry children if you have been very, very bad. If you have been wicked, then he will take you away, leaving a log of wood in your image behind while you are taken to his lair. Maybe he will make you work for him, or maybe he will devour you, or maybe he will drown you the fiery pits of hell.
For me, the Krampus the naughty side of this season, Christmas in all its gory glory. It is the time that the birth of the Holy Sun of God is born, in many ancient paths, not just Christian. And as wholesome and holy as this season is, there is a sombre side to this season too. There is loneliness and bitter sweet memories, there is greed and over indulgence. There is consumerism and debt, there is chocolate, alcohol and burning loins. Families argue and fight, office parties end in the walk of shame and guilt, and the streets are littered with drunks wearing sexy Santa outfits (or are they the slaves of Krampus?).
As Advent begins, Saint Nick sits on one shoulder, and Krampus sits on the other, whispering sweet nothings in our ears.
I have a soft spot for the Krampus, he has been commercialised into a jolly and slightly satanical Christmas figure, and there is a growing number of people within the anti-Christmas community, who use the bar-humbuginess of Krampusnacht to celebrate something slightly less Holy.
Once, I accidentally celebrated Krampusnacht with my son. He was ill during the last week of November and as he was feeling better and as he had been exceptionally good all week, we decided to gift him an early Christmas present on the night of the fifth of December. Later that night, I found out it was Krampusnacht.
So, to all my kith and kin, have a cheeky chocolate, or a snifter of rum, watch an X rated movie or simply snuggle up with your Shnookums or your Snugglybum.
Like everything in life, it’s about balance and moderation, holding the two polarities of life in balance in each hand, so you can be the stillness in the centre.
Be both the bright and the dark, the light and the shadow, the oak and the holly, the Santa and Krampus.
Merry Krampusnacht to you all, and to all a good night!
Shamanism has been a passion and an inspiration for me for many years now.