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Krampustime is Coming!

Nikolaustag (St. Nicholas' Day) will be here December 6th. Everyone knows what that means: Watch out for the Krampus! The Krampus, a half-man-half goat with horns, one cloven hoof, and a suspiciously long tongue, emerges on December 5th to torture and terrorize children (and adults) who have been bad. He may whip them with his switch, or wrap them in chains, or stuff them in the barrel he carries on his back and take them straight to hell.

After the Krampus has applied his Sonderbehandlung to the baddies, St. Nick comes by and distributes goodies to those left unscathed. The Austrians were apparently the originators of this tradition, and many parts of Austria still mount a yearly Krampuslauf (g) on December 5th, in which people run around in elaborate handcarved Krampus masks whipping the pretty girls with switches. Sounds like fun!

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, there was a vogue for Krampus postcards, which you could send (tongue in cheek?) to misbehaving children to let them know what infernal tortures lay in store for them if they failed to obey. Thanks to the skill of Central European graphic designers, many of these images still have the power to terrify and amuse. Indeed, you may find that these postcards help you understand certain aspects of mid-20th-century Central European history...

Monte Beauchamp of Blabworld (definitely worth a visit) published a collection of these postcards in 2004 in The Devil in Design: The Krampus Postcards. Of course, I knew I had to buy it. Here are a few samples from this delightful book:

Krampus Postcards

Krampus Postcards0001

Krampus Postcards0002

Krampus Postcards0004

Krampus Postcards0005

Krampus Postcards0006

Krampus Postcards0007

Krampus Postcards0008

Krampus Postcards0009


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The Krampus made it to Colbert:



"After the Krampus has applied his Sonderbehandlung to the baddies"

Yes, the Tschörrmän in me was quite shocked, too. But then the inner Brit found it pretty funny. To take the tastelessness to another level, after all, Where would we be without our sense of humor?!, as someone asked on the BBC some decades ago (The answer was, he quickly added, In Germany!)

M. Möhling

> Jacques Dutronc as "le fils du père fouettard"
Ah, croque-monsieur Dutronc in all his popped-up collar beauty. Here's a stanza he forgot:

Mille troi cent millions de musulmans
Et moi, et moi, et moi
Avec leur foi, son je ne sais quoi
Son mal de tête, son psi
J'y pense et puis j'oublie
C'est la vie, c'est la vie

But how dares he? Bad taste, bad faith, plus ultra. EWW: containment. Worked so well.


Totally on topic musical interlude: http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x91864_jacques-dutronc-la-fille-du-pere-no_music (with Jacques Dutronc as "le fils du père fouettard")


In my part of Germany, it's not Krampus but Knecht Ruprecht who represents the dark side.

The duality of Krampus/Knecht Ruprecht and Santa Claus is striking. Wo Licht ist, ist auch Schatten.

Reminds me of the Grimm fairy tale in which Goldmarie and Pechmarie are so neatly and decisively opposed. Or of the Good German/Bad German post-WWII legend.


The postcards are great. I remember being very scared of Knecht Rupprecht/Krampus as a kid because of the bundle of whips he carried with him. Which he of course never actually used but we kids were left in the dark about that! He also had a weird limp (cloven hoof?) and was covered in soot.

There's a lovely Bavarian expression for the snazzy devil-type shown on the postcards: "Sparifankerl".

M. Möhling

> seemingly the good doctor got his original medical
> education in Damascus
Ok, wrong, sloppiness doesn't pay.

> Maybe they need to fix their curriculum, earnestly
Nope, it's the US Army, who does. Any which way: about 75 percent of the country's 17- to 24-year-olds are ineligible for military service. The prez to the rescue: he "reminds nation of military’s diversity" after diversity hit the fan. Just what the doctor orders. Maybe they should enlist Krampus and Knecht Ruprecht, too.

M. Möhling

I wonder, though: will my old chums ever engage me again in lighthearted banter? Wassup boyos? I'm a Krampus of sorts? I fart and reek? Ok, but at least I'm no, um, pious psychologist with mysterious motives, so if you come play with me, we guys will play it safe, as my religion isn't, um, peaceful! No, um, enraged barebacking, if I may overstress the metaphore--I promise.[1] And ridicule is nothing to be scared of, remember? Eventually, of course, I'm to prove there's more than just method to my madness--yep, there's cogency, too. You'll concur in 20 years anyway, make that 10, so why the Kontaktscheu? GW for next W: Triftigkeit. EWs for today: balls, galls, and guts.

What, no takers? My path doesn't shine? No Karl to Krauss my krazy kinks, detain depraved designs? Why don't you let your light shine before yours truly, so that he may see your good works? Screw up your courage and ...do it.

  1. Homo- and Islamophobia in concurrence of offences? Plus unwarranted sexual innuendo?? How down and out can one man get? Easy: Plus ultra! ¡Vivan los Reyes Católicos!

M. Möhling

> Boy, do I feel like a putz
Granted, to a commenter with a hammer everything is halal. Or haram, as it may be. So nah, don't you feel putzy. Though, today's post is putzig, as fits the blog's motto. Me? Not much. I'm afraid this fellow is my next incarnation. Else, that's where I came from. GWW: Kampfschwein.

M. Möhling

A shooting. Uh, yes. Let's not overreact. Nothing to see here, move along. We wish, we must. But no, actually, the Magi are coming to town, or, chickens come home to roost, as some will rejoice, though they will resent the backlash on the pious, unjustified and incomprehensible.

We're so different--I went in Krampus mode the instant I saw the pictures here, greeting cards, yes, having heard the news some hours earlier. Kept it in some corner of my mind first; could've been some madman. Not likely, though, but could be. Just wait. Then came them details. Big surprise. Now there's screeching and sorrow among the Intelligentsija. Poor pious people. The wonders of perception and aesthetic sensibilities. I should discuss this with my friend Said.

Knecht Ruprecht with a clean shave and uneasy smile. We made him suffer. Letting them Jewboys getting fresh on his fellow natives in spiritu et sanguis, dissing the World o'Islam's Wonders--so very much unlike the prez. He's in for another speech, isn't he, now? Promoting and protecting social cohesion in markedly uncohesive times? Will he have American Islam's top dogs over for a beer? The Magi, and a PBR? Mustn't we love our brothers? And foes? Us being secular, humanist, agnostic Christians? Of sorts? Just without the silly metaphysical stuff? Say, paradise? Which we must have here, then, eventually, as we won't have in the netherworld? Because we aren't silly to assume as much? So we commensurate the incommensurate, even if it hurts, more often than not? Because we're not, repeat, not, to accept the obvious, if we want paradise now. The obvious being silly. And mostly phobic in more varieties than we can shake our cunning and verbally gifted sticks at.

Mawa, certified public intellectual. I long for your charms. Speak to me, friend. Koch, kook me some potion o'wisdom. Basti, bother to stretch my horizons, and widen my heart. A soul from out a shadow that lies floating on a floor shall be lifted. Make me embrace adversity, diversity, and equality of outcomes. We must be whole, and one. Though we scoff at pathos and things sentimental (and equal outcomes! but we won't tell), that's the pole we've got rammed up ours. Keeps our back from bending when the winds blow. We hint at, not wallow in, things mushy, keeping plausible deniability. Best of both worlds. Stiff upper lips, and teary eyes. Reasoned distance, and suffering with the least of our brothers. Borderline Bambis. Cunning contentment.


Dammit Moehling, you beat me to it again. In hindsight, the connection between 19th-century European greeting cards and a shooting on a Texas military base was so damned obvious, it was practically staring me in the face.

Boy, do I feel like a putz.

M. Möhling

One commenter found out about our Oriental Krampus' missing motive: Sudden Jihad Syndrome. Ex oriente mortis. And that's ironic, too, as it befell a shrink. Double whammy. Or not so much, as seemingly the good doctor got his original medical education in Damascus. Maybe they need to fix their curriculum, earnestly.

How's that for bad taste? I'm on a roll, thank you. Sonderbehandlung, bad taste--come on, that's a knell that summons me to heaven or to hell, my salivary glands are on a roll, too, can't help it. Michael, think ding dong.

M. Möhling

Sorry, Michael, you just got in the way--happenstance or serendipity, who knows. Nice blog, that of yours, thx for the Arnie stuff. Conan is ironically impaired, too--that's tacky tit-for-tat, even for my standards.

M. Möhling

> Krampustime is Coming! [...] Indeed, you may find that
> these postcards help you understand certain aspects of
> mid-20th-century Central European history...
Dear dear, Krampustime is coming to town in Texas, too, non-ironic Sonderbehandlung and all. We may find that this helps us understand certain aspects of 21th-century history, Central European, American et al... even, as the the Houston Chronicle tells, the "motive" is "a mystery" as of yet.

> You know the old saying: if it weren't for bad taste,
> I'd have no taste at all!
You're welcome, be our guest, great minds disgust alike. Ich sei, gewährt mir die Bitte, In eurem Bunde der Dritte! Though technically speaking, we're only two so far, as Michael is ironically challenged. But hey, this blog leaves no reader behind.


Sorry, I might have let some naughty 'Anglo-Saxon' irony creep in there. You know the old saying: if it weren't for bad taste, I'd have no taste at all!


Sorry, wrong link: http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sonderbehandlung .



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