“Burn, burn tree fern!
Shrivel and scorth! A fizzling torch
To light the night for our delight, Ya hey!
Bake and toast ‘em, fry and roast ‘em!
Till beards blaze, and eyes glaze;
Till hair smells and skins crack,
Fat melts, and bones black
In cinders lie
Beneath the sky!
So dwarves shall die,
And light the night for our delight,
The Hobbit J.R.R Tolkin
That was my feeling last night under the blue and white rendering of the full moon, bundled in the crisp mountain air while Krampus danced around his sacrificial fire. Krampus is an Alpine folklore beast-devil of the Yule season that serves as the antithesis to Saint Nicholas. Rather than rewarding good children he punishes children who misbehave by clubbing them and carrying them away in a sack to his lair. The faces and pageantry of this festival were so dark and demonic it felt entirely divergent from any Christmas festival I have ever attended. This was not cookies and mistletoe but rather a gothic revival of fear draped in blood caked goatskins, horns, and rattling chains culminating in the birth of a new Krampus from a raging fire in the center of town. Last night was reminiscent of the original fairy tale forms when wolves, witches and the dark things of this world were truly haunting and gruesome.
So if you live near the mountains and you were less than an exemplary human being this year don’t worry about a lump of coal in your stocking but rather the dark animal/beast and his fangs as he descends from the mountains and out of the woods to pluck you from your home and carry you into the icy shadows of this Yule season.