It has been a while since I've picked a Festival of the Week on my blog, but here is one to get in the winter holiday spirit: Krampusnacht. It takes place tomorrow, December 5.
In Germany and other Alpine countries the night before the Feast of St Nicholas, which is on 6 December, the Krampus goes around sorting out the good boys and girls from the bad. The Krampus is a monstrous figure with horns who carries a sack. If you have been bad, that sack is where you will end up. The good children, however, wake up to find presents left for them.
Krampusnacht is generally an excuse for a bit of a carnival-type celebration. Men dress up as the Krampus while women often dress up as Frau Perchta, who was a Nordic folktale character and may have been an aspect of the fertility goddess Freyja. It is thought that the origins of these festivities date back to pre-Christian pagan times and that the Krampus was originally a pagan supernatural creature who Christians conflated with the Devil.
In places where Krampusnacht is celebrated, people sometimes give each other cards. You can buy buy them in England too, and I think they would make a great alternative to boring old Christmas cards.
Links and previous related posts
Krampus Greeting Cards