This play at the Church of the Angels in Pasadena had everything...
...and St. Nikolaus scolding naughty children in traditional German garb.
It was kind of like my childhood, but here, the monsters actually looked like monsters...
...and Satan was more than just an invisible threat.
This was the Krampus play of the Austrian 1800s, the Nikolausspiel.
Apparently kids of a certain kind are freakin' terrified of the Krampus—especially when a traditional play like this is performed in their own living rooms in tiny villages in Bavaria and Austria.
I think it's all kind of hilarious and magical.
Hanging out with these big furry guys kind of feels like being in the middle of Where the Wild Things Are.
They're pretty patient when it comes to getting their photo taken...
...and despite their horns, twisted faces and gnarled teeth, they can be quite cuddly.
You just have to remember that what looks like smoke is actually steam, and what you think is a lump of coal is actually a piece of chocolate.
Krampus and his crew are of a discerning taste—they're not about rewarding Kinder, whether they've been naughty or nice. Krampus is a bit more concerned with scaring the Scheisse out of those kids so that he doesn't have to come back and punish them or snatch them up and take them away.
And, if you're a good little Fräulein, you have nothing to worry about.
Photo Essay: Krampus, The Dark Side of Christmas
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