Since the mid-1800s, Krampus, the horned beast of Alpine legend, has been carrying on the tradition of St. Nicholas’ dark companions who punish the naughty children as a counterpart to his benevolent rewards of gifts and sweets. Costumed in animal pelts and horns, villagers playfully chase children around with switches. Although the rugged topography of the Alps kept the folklore of Krampus regional for many years, it was just too much fun to be ignored, and spread to America in the 21st century.
In Los Angeles, the Krampus group was spearheaded in 2013 by Al Ridenour and Al Guerrero, veterans of The Cacophony Society and Santacon. Since then, Ridenour has been presenting annual slideshows, plays and lectures about the mythological beast. Years spent deep in research have now come to fruition in a book called “The Krampus and the Old, Dark Christmas: Roots and Rebirth of the Folkloric Devil.”
Published by Feral House Press, the book explores the religious, cultural and linguistic history of the Krampus, as well as related dark folkloric characters and the tradition of the “dark Christmas” season, or die Rauhnächte. Instead of a dry scholarly tome, the book is enlivened with personal experiences and amusing bits of ephemera the author came across during his exhaustive research. Ridenour takes the reader by the hand, and leads them through even the most obscure details without getting pedantic or patronizing. Referencing everyone from Ovid to The Simpsons, Al Ridenour has created the seminal primer on the Krampus legend.
FRIDAY NOVEMBER 18th
This Friday, Al Ridenour will be signing copies of “The Krampus and the Old, Dark Christmas” at Dark Delicacies in North Hollywood from 6pm til 9pm. “Krampus himself will be in attendance for photo ops and frights courtesy of Seven Hells.”
SATURDAY NOVEMBER 19th
This Saturday from 7 to 10pm, La Luz de Jesus will host a book signing, reading, slideshow, and musical performance. You can also expect costumed devilry, demonstration of Bleigiessen, and ancient European form of fortune-telling using molten lead, a special musical set by TALEA, “offering a unique mix of ambient/electronic soundscapes, tribal percussion, ambient and abrasive guitar, along with spoken word and operatic vocals.” Abrasive guitar. There will also be a Krampus Kwiz with prizes and punishments. (Here is a freebee: The plural of Krampus is Krampusse). FREE!
SATURDAY NOVEMBER 26th
The following Saturday, there will be a Krampus Talk and Costumed Catwalk at the Goethe Institute on Wilshire. There will be two separate presentations, one at 6pm and another at 9pm. Tickets must be purchased in advance. If you have only seen the Hollywood version of Krampus, come get acquainted with the more authentically European concept of the mythical Christmas devil. “Ridenour will explore the topic with new slides, rare video clips, and surprises dreamed up with his costumed cohorts from Krampus Los Angeles.” Members of the group will be costumed as more than a dozen other spooky creatures from the dark Christmas mythology, like the “…demonic Habergeiß, the Schnabelpercht, and “bloody Thomas…” Saint Nicholas will also be on hand to reward any of you who might have been good this year.
PARKING: $1 validated parking all day on weekends in the Wilshire Courtyard West underground garage-P1. Info (323) 525-3388. email@example.com Tickets are $10 and available here.
Keep an eye on the Krampus LA website for exciting holiday events.