About a year ago I wrote a blog post about some new OSR monsters centered around the Yule-demon – called Sandy Claws in some parts of my game world and based on the old Swedish Yule Ram (Link to old post).
Fast forward to yesterday – me and my wife spent Christmas Eve by ourselves, since the kids are with their mother this Christmas. We wanted to see something christmas-y, so we watched Krampus. Rather crappy movie. But it had some elements that were very similar to my Yule Demon ideas.
Which made me feel stupid. Here I came up with some fresh ideas that turned out to be centuries old…:)
Anyway, I did some research here and it turns out that Krampus is a creature stemming from an area in central Europe, including Bavaria, Austria, Czech Republic, Croatia, Hungary and nothern Italy. Funny thing is that I’m half Croatian and my mother has never ever mentioned this figure despite being from a small town situated not one hour from the Austrian border and the city of Saltzburg. This part of Croatia was very much a part of the Austrian-Hungarian monarchy and as a culture has very much in common with Austrian culture. When I go to my mother and sister later today I’ll ask about Krampus – I’m sure she knows the myths.
Basically, Krampus is anathema to Saint Nicholaus – where Santa brings gifts to nice children, Krampus punishes the naughty ones.
The Swedish Yule Ram which today is only remembered as a small wicker decoration that you keep beside the christmas tree (or a giant one that is torched by vandals every year) is thought to initially have come from the Aesir faith and Thor’s twin rams, which then in the late 18th and early 19th centuries were mixed with the Krampus myths from German tradition. This figure was a benign being, holding the same role as Santa does today – i.e. he comes bearing gifts. These days however, it’s all Santa, but the Yule Ram tradition still lives in some parts of Finland apparently.
Well. You learn as long as you live I suppose.
And Merry Christmas 🙂