So, how much do you know about Krampusnacht? Whether you’re completely new to the concept or a long-time admirer of the Krampus character, join me as I visit the St. Louis version of the European Krampusnacht festival.
There are long-standing pagan traditions in Europe of dark companions to Saint Nicholas. While Saint Nicholas rewards good children, the dark companion punishes. Examples of the dark companion are the Zwarte Piet in the Netherlands, and Knecht Ruprecht or Belsnickel in Germany.
In in the Alpine regions of Europe this dark companion is Krampus. Krampus can punish naughty children by giving them coal instead of presents, hitting them with switches, or, in the case of extremely naughty children, carrying them off in a basket to the netherworld.
In some regions in Europe there are yearly “Krampuslauf” festivals in which young men dress as Krampus and parade through the town.
Raymond Castile wants to import the idea of the Krampuslauf or Krampusnacht to St. Louis. This year he is helping to coordinate the second-annual Krampus Pub Crawl on Cherokee Street.
The event took place on Saturday, December 5th. Participants visited bars up and down the street, and ended the night at Artbar. Most of the bars had drink specials for those in costume. I caught up with the revelers at The Whiskey Ring, and you can see more of that in the video (below.)
True to its pagan origins, the crowd enjoyed the idea of someone potentially being burned alive.
The pageant part of the evening was held at Artbar.
This is where I learned the legend of Frau Perchta, an even darker companion of Krampus, who would cut open the bellies of very naughty children, fill them with rocks, and sew them shut again.
Here’s our version of Frau Perchta. She looks way too sweet to slit our bellies, doesn’t she?
Check out the video below to see more of the costumes, and to see the final contest winner.
I had a great time at the event and will definitely be back next year.
If you want to know more about this event, check out the Krampusnacht Facebook group.