December 13, 2015

Photo Essay: Krampus, The Dark Side of Christmas

For whatever reason, I didn't go to the West Hollywood Halloween Carnaval this year, even though I've gone every other year that I've lived in LA.

I kind of missed it.

But I got my costumed creature fix this week at the LA Krampuslauf—a re-creation of the traditional "Krampus Run" that still occurs only in the tiniest of Austrian villages.

Now, of course, it's become kind of a hipster thing—a kind of Santa Con for those of us who prefer Creepmas to Christmas.

I'd first witnessed the troupe of costumed characters last year at the Echo Park Holiday Parade...

...and it seemed a bit anachronistic to witness them in broad daylight... they seem to be more, well...

...creatures of the night.

So, at last week's DTLA ArtWalk, I got to see these Christmas devils in their own element—

...trolling the streets of Downtown LA for the naughty... beat us with their switches...

...capture us in their baskets, and carry us away.

If Santa rewards the nice...

...Krampus punishes the naughty.

But at the Krampuslauf, you kind of want to be one of the naughty.

That way, you belong.

That way, you get a piece of chocolate (disguised as coal).

You can hear the Krampus coming, because of the cowbells affixed to his belt and basket.

It's hard to be surprised by Krampus.

He makes quite an impression.

Whether his eyes are glowing, his teeth are showing, or his tongue is sticking out...

...he's usually got those evil horns...

...and a countenance that demands respect.

And when the Krampus beckons you, you obey.

Of course, on a rainy night like last Thursday, the Krampus smells a bit like wet dog...

...which makes it hard to take him seriously...

...but I probably would've been giggling the whole time anyway...

...just like I do at haunted houses.

Despite my Alpine upbringing, I didn't become acquainted with Krampus until just three years ago—but this is one holiday tradition I could get used to.  I like that Christmas has a dark side—that Saint Nick has some counterpart to deal with the naughty ones, and there are so many possible iterations of him, and so many people actually interested in him enough to laufen the streets of LA in the rain dressed as him.

Fröhliche Krampuslauf!

Related Posts:
Photo Essay: Willkommen Krampus, the Christmas Devil
Photo Essay: West Hollywood Halloween Carnaval 2014
Photo Essay: West Hollywood Halloween Carnaval 2013

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