On a dark and wintry edition of After Hours AM/America’s Most Haunted Radio — Thursdays 9-11pE with hosts Joel Sturgis and Eric Olsen — we welcome author and provocateur Al Ridenour to talk about his comprehensive and sumptuous new book, The Krampus and the Old, Dark Christmas, exploring the ancient roots and pop culture explosion of the suddenly very popular anti-Claus. Al will join us in the 10pE hour – in the 9pE hour, Joel and Eric will review the week’s paranormal news and banter meaningfully.
You can’t swing a dead furry demon these days without smacking into Krampus, the dark shadow to the bright light of St. Nicholas at Christmastide. The ancient Alpine demon-thing comes equipped with horns, fangs, claws, unruly fur, hooves, long creepy tongue; and wields chains, whips, switches, and bells. And while the punisher of naughty kids has been terrorizing Germanic Europe for centuries, even millennia, he is now suddenly running rampant across the US in feature films, on TV (Grimm, Supernatural, Colbert Report, American Dad), in comics and novels, and at various gatherings, balls, and runs.
Not too long ago, the naughty list of Santa Claus actually meant something: if kids misbehaved they were punished for their misdeeds by being given the dreaded lump of coal, or at least denied longed-for presents from Santa. Kids had something to think about, something at stake, Christmas bounty wasn’t automatic. But over the last century or so the stick has disappeared from the carrot-and-stick approach to Christmas. The Old World from which Krampus comes knew a very different holiday, one haunted by ghosts, witches, devilish horsemen, murderous incarnations of Catholic saints, the demonic Perchten, and witch-like Frau Perchta, known for disemboweling naughty children. Even the church once celebrated this holiday with plays depicting the Devil, Antichrist, and Herod’s gory Massacre of the Innocents. Together, these strange winter traditions gave birth to a monster now more popular than ever, the Krampus.
Though the Krampus figure is now familiar, not much can be found about its history and meaning, thus calling for a fantastically comprehensive and readable book like Al Ridenour’s new The Krampus and the Old, Dark Christmas: Roots and Rebirth of the Folkloric Devil. With Krampus’s wild, graphic history, publisher Feral House hired the awarded designer Sean Tejaratchi to take on Ridenour’s book about this ever-so-curious figure and the results are ravishing.
Al Ridenour has lectured on Krampus at the Goethe Institutes in Los Angeles. He became somewhat of an internet phenomenon himself due to the hilarious hijinks he coordinated with the controversial Cacophony Societies. Of the Krampus-related organizations in the US, Al’s Krampus Los Angeles is the most dedicated to the traditions, artistry, and serious exploration of Krampus themes – he was just the man to write the book!
READ MORE “WEIRD CHRISTMAS”:
Iceland’s Terrifying Traditions
Talking Weird Christmas Customs with Gerry Bowler on After Hours AM/America’s Most Haunted Radio
Werewolves of Yule
Mari Lwyd – The Party Animal Horse Skull of Wales
Krampus – The Rise of the Anti-Claus
The Yule Log
The Macabre Adventures of St. Nicholas
Santa Claus and the Magic Mushroom
Midnight Syndicate Brings Spooky Sensibility to CHRISTMAS: A GHOSTLY GATHERING
SCROOGED Should Be On Your Christmas Horror List