Wednesday, December 06, 2006
Here we are once again in the season of Advent, hurtling toward Christmas. In the church calendar this day is dedicated to good St. Nicholas, otherwise known as Father Christmas or Santa.
But did you know Saint Nick once had a diabolical travelling companion?
This seasonal posting first takes us back to November when I uploaded my Prague holiday photos, in particular the above snap of what I thought were figures of the Devil and St. Nicholas on display side by side in Prague's Toy Museum. At the time I couldn't guess why the two should be associated....
Thanks to an email from Comics Comics magazine cover star and ace cartoonist Pshaw, I now know who the devilish figure from Eastern European legend is. "That's Krampus! He's my favourite Christmas character" Pshaw wrote. He explained further: "Over the centuries, the legend of the good St.Nicholas grew. As a friend of all children he would give them special gifts and food. In the past he rewarded only their good behaviour because he travelled with a cloven-hoofed demon who knew who had been bad. Stories vary, but typically Krampus was a dark, shaggy monster with horns, a tail and a long red tongue who rattled iron chains! St.Nicholas would arrive with a full sack of toys and Krampus brought an empty basket to carry away boys and girls for punishment."
Phew, personally I think it's only fair that kids should be deprived of their Playstation gifts if they've been wicked...don't you?