A few years ago, we ran a special winter episode on the Snow Maiden, an adored figure from Slavic folklore. Today, we travel to Austria for an encounter with the Krampus. Each December, this devil clad in sheepskin and goat horns wanders the Alpine valleys of Bavaria and Tyrol. The Krampus lurks in other parts of Austria, as well—and some of his cousins pop up even farther afield in Eastern Europe—but the specter of this dark Christmas legend is strongest in the mountains. You might have met some version of him in the 2015 Hollywood horror movie Krampus or the 2010 Finnish film Rare Exports. But the real story of the Krampus is better than the movies. Here to tell us about it is Al Ridenour, host of the dark folklore podcast Bone & Sickle and the author of the book The Krampus and the Old Dark Christmas.
Go beyond the episode:
- Al Ridenour’s The Krampus and the Old Dark Christmas
- Listen to the Bone & Sickle podcast, co-hosted by Ridenour and Sarah Chavez
- Looking for more winter folktales? The Snow Maiden awaits.
- Rare Exports (2010) is our host’s favorite holiday horror flick
- Krampus (2015) is not entirely true to the myth, but we love it anyway
- And there’s always Santa slashers
Krampusen from the Alt Gnigler Troupe, Salzburg (Photographs by Martin Zehentner):
This episode features an arrangement of “Carol of the Bells” performed and recorded by myuu.
Tune in every week to catch interviews with the liveliest voices from literature, the arts, sciences, history, and public affairs; reports on cutting-edge works in progress; long-form narratives; and compelling excerpts from new books. Hosted by Stephanie Bastek. Follow us on Twitter @TheAmScho or on Facebook.
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