December 5 was officially Krampus Nacht, the night when St. Nick’s demonic helper, the Krampus, collects the all the naughty girls and boys, hits them with a switch and puts them in a basket to drag down to fiery depths of.. well, you know.
Of course, if it was just one night, it wouldn’t be fun, so the organization Krampus Los Angeles, put together a whole festival, spread out through Los Angeles county! The festival was in its second year and was a combination of traditional presentation and holiday party fun. The festival kicked off with a cultural presentation of the history of the Krampus, which was covered here. After that, however, things kicked into high gear with the Krampus Ball and the Krampus Run, finishing off with the traditional Krampus Play.
Definitely a mix of everything, the Krampus Ball was held at the Highland Park Ebell Club, a large events building that has held everything from traditional Swiss music to German heavy metal with a few burlesque acts in between. St. Nick himself wasn’t above joining in the festivities, dancing with the guests and handing out coal from his Christmas bag. The night culminated with the release of the Krampus beasts, all of whom walked around the hall poking and swiping at guests while St. Nick ordered them to show no mercy.
The Krampus Run was held in Downtown Los Angeles, just south of the Pershing Square Metro Station. A small street was closed off so that St. Nick could scold visitors while riding on his Krampus-driven Steam Engine, a crude three-wheeled steam-powered platform driven by a Krampus while other Krampus beasts walked up and down the street flinging switches at bystanders and grabbing a child or two in the process. After riding up and down the street, St. Nick and his henchmen took photos with the enthusiastic crowd before heading in for the night.
The last event of the festival, the Krampus Play was both educational and entertaining. The event took place at the Church of the Angels, a wonderful brick and mortar church that was built in 1889. The event began with videos on the history of the Krampus as well as displays of how Krampus festivities were celebrated in Europe (hint: the US is fairly tame in its celebration of the Krampus. Other places get pretty wild and not always in a good way.) The night ended with a series of three plays in which not only the Krampus appears, but Satan himself! St. Nick appears as both savior and judge, giving two children salvation, but condemning a butcher and his wife for killing some guests. Afterwards, St. Nick and his Krampus companions stood outside the church so that eager guests could get a photo of the man and monsters themselves.
The Krampus Festival is a great time, with multiple events in the first half of December, most of which are family friendly. This is definitely something that should continue and it’s strongly encouraged to check these events out. For anyone miffed that Halloween lasts only one night, this is another chance to break out the horns, dress up a little and enjoy the darker side of Christmas!