Grinch

Prescott, Arizona, USA - December 1, 2018: Man wearing a Grinch mask with Santa costume riding a motorcycle in the Christmas parade in downtown Prescott

We’ve been living through a Grinch Renaissance. 

Each year, the commercialized holiday season creeps up closer and closer, threatening to wipe Thanksgiving off the calendar completely. Halloween, thankfully, seems to be holding the line for now, if only because it’s frequently cited as people’s favorite holiday.

But lately, I’ve been noticing some of Christmas creeping into Halloween. (Or maybe its Halloween bleeding into Christmas?)

I’m talking about figures like the Grinch.

As anyone with a TV, radio, or computer could probably tell you, we’ve recently had a new Grinch remake come out. Again. 

I’m weirdly fond of grumpy characters like the Grinch or even Ebenezer Scrooge. As a fan of redemption stories, it’s hard not to be. But was this latest Grinch (a cute, sanitized version of the classic song) really necessary?

Maybe, maybe not. What I’m really interested in is how this latest Grinch is the latest sign of a larger Grinch epidemic.

It’s inevitable around this time of year. Someone is going to complain about the holidays and how annoying they’ve become, how commercialized, and how sick they are of Christmas songs.

The more people push for the holiday spirit to seep into every crack and corner, the stronger the anti-holiday forces grow. 

In honor of the holidays, the latest episode of my podcast Myth Roast covers Krampus. He’s an anti-Santa of sorts from Europe that either accompanies St. Nicholas on his rounds and doles out punishments on naughty children where St. Nicholas hands out treats. Or he just goes solo and acts as a more sinister Santa.

Krampus is serious about his punishments, though — none of that lump of coal nonsense. He’s said to kidnap and eat children. 

If you’re into myths, folklore and such similar subjects like I am, Krampus is pretty well known.

But what I wasn’t expecting while looking into it is how many evil Santa figures there are with some pretty intense punishments for misbehaving children — Frau Perchta, Belsnickel, Pere Fouettard, Gryla, to name a few. 

These figures, especially Krampus, have been enjoying a revival in the recent years around the same time that more people are getting sick of commercialized winter holidays. 

Krampus used to be pretty popular in Europe’s pre-Christian days, but fell out of favor in the early 1900s. But no worries, this underdog (undergoat?) has made a modern comeback. With a vengeance.

I haven’t been to one personally, but, if the internet is to be believed, parades dedicated to Krampus have been becoming increasingly common in Europe and even in America. He’s even got his own Krampusnaucht.

The costumes are creepy, scary even. If I showed you some of the photos without any context, you might even think they came from some Halloween party.

As a huge fan of both Christmas and Halloween, I love it. I’ve never been able to choose between the two when asked about my favorite holiday. But if there’s anything Krampus has taught me, maybe I don’t have to. 

I can just stick to inevitable blend of Hallowthankmas.

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