Grayson had started the evening fast asleep. The evening in question, being Christmas Eve, this was not unusual or unexpected. In fact, being Christmas Eve it was equally usual and expected that at 1 minute past midnight Grayson awoke in eager anticipation.
As many of his friends were doing at that same moment, Grayson was wondering if Father Christmas (Santa Claus or Saint Nicholas if you prefer) had yet visited. He further wondered what gifts might appear for him under the Christmas tree or in the stocking above the fireplace. He had absolute confidence that Father Christmas would not only visit, but also leave an abundance of gifts that he could enjoy for the coming days.
Little Grayson lay in his bed being as quiet as he possibly could until finally he heard the soft creaking of the floorboards outside his room. In his excitement he completely forgot the advice his parents had given him many times throughout the year –
“Grayson be good or else you will have no gifts for Christmas.”
“Grayson put that down now! If you keep on like this there will be no Christmas gifts for you.”
“Grayson leave the dog alone or Christmas will be cancelled – no gifts for you!”
“Grayson if you talk back one more time…”
As he sat up in his bed to eagerly watch the door and catch Father Christmas in the act of delivering his presents, he forgot what his older brother, Xanthus, had told him only a few hours earlier.
“You are so mean Grayson” he had spluttered through tears as he held the arm Grayson had just bit. “It would serve you right to get no gifts at all.”
What Little Grayson had not considered is thait Xanthus was correct, and Grayson really did not deserve the gifts he presumed to be just beyond his bedroom door. He had not considered at all that his bad behavior might result in punishment rather than reward. He only considered this as the door opened.
In the sliver of moonlight that came through his bedroom window, he could see in the doorway a beast of magnificent proportions. With long horns and cloven hoofs, it was monstrously beautiful and fiercely savage.
Although Little Grayson wished to scream, he found his throat was dry and his voice had been stolen by his fear. Little more than a gasp came out as the creature took a few short strides from the door to his bed and pulled a sack from over its shoulder. Grayson’s eyes widened with fear as the sack came down over him, and he could not help but be intrigued and disturbed that the beast’s face resembled that of a person. But at the same time had the viciousness of a monster.
The creature turned and strode from the room, back down the stairs and out of the house with the silent petrified Grayson slung over its shoulder. Xanthus stood watching them leave, no fear apparent for he had no reason to be scared of the same fate.
As they left the house Xanthus whispered after them “Merry Christmas Grayson!”.
In Central European folklore, Krampus is a horned, anthropomorphic figure described as “half-goat, half-demon”, who, during the Christmas season, punishes children who have misbehaved, in contrast with Saint Nicholas, who rewards the well-behaved with gifts.
Krampus himself historically comes around the night of December 25th, tagging along with St. Nicholas. He visits houses all night with his saintly pal. While St. Nick is on hand to put candy in the shoes of good kids and birch twigs in the shoes of the bad, Krampus’ particular specialty is punishing naughty children. Legend has it that throughout the Christmas season, misbehaved kids are beaten with birch branches or can disappear, stuffed into Krampus’ sack and hauled off to his lair to be tortured or eaten.
Krampus’ roots have nothing to do with Christmas. Instead, they date back to pre-Germanic paganism in the region. His name originates with the German krampen, which means “claw,” and tradition has it that he is the son of the Norse god of the underworld, Hel. During the 12th century, the Catholic Church attempted to banish Krampus celebrations because of his resemblance to the devil. More eradication attempts followed in 1934 at the hands of Austria’s conservative Christian Social Party. But none of it held, and Krampus emerged as a much-feared and beloved holiday force.
So, you better watch out. You better not pout. Or krampus will take you to a place where no one can hear you shout. Best of luck and wishes during this holiday season.
Written and edited by Victor Fonseca