Never mind Jesus Christ! It's time to put Krampus back into Christmas.
Who the hell is Krampus, you wonder? Well, we'll get to that at the appropriate moment.
But first, let's turn to the question of the Big Guy, the Christ Child Himself, before and after he grew up and, in the historically perceptive words of the great Canadian poet Milton Acorn, donned "thorns and sunstroke, beating his life and death into words to break the rods and blunt the axes of Rome."
In other words, the guy was a revolutionary. So even if you're one of those righteously indignant "conservatives" who incessantly complain that we need to put Christ Back Into Christmas, and right smartly too, the Christ who wasn't born on Christmas Day isn't the Christ you're thinking of anyway.
He's some guy more like Che Guevara, only with a better grip on Jewish law and without the beret, the carbine, and the frequent homicidal episodes. He's the guy who's always complaining, "What have the Romans ever done for us?" Other than building all those roads, that is. "Think not that I am come to send peace on earth," he said. "I came not to send peace, but a sword."
But centuries before the Project to Marketize Everything Canadian (PMEC) got properly under way in the Prime Minister's Office of Canada (PMOC), the Project to Christianize Everything in Europe (PCEE) was up and running on the Old Half-Continent, so Christ always had surprisingly little to do with Christmas, notwithstanding the terminological coincidence and the constant whinging ever since by that slice of Christendom that really has very little idea what the heck it's talking about.
I mean, just for starters, Jesus was probably born in April. Have you got that, people? April!
OK, it's nice to sing Christian carols at midwinter -- and I just got back from midnight mass where I was doing just that -- but we're singing them now because it's the Winter Solstice, or leastways it was last Friday, so we're basically talking about feasting, boozing and celebrating with a bunch of proto-Germanic pagans the fact that, the gods be praised, the days are going to start getting longer again. And it's about bloody time, too!
The Big Guy who received all the toasts from those proto-Germanic polytheists was Odin, or maybe Wotan, the god of war, victory, death, wisdom and a whole bunch of other good stuff -- including, both Miltons must have been pleased to learn and unlike you probably did, poetry.
The next time you look down your nose at some poor Mexican or Haitian for slapping a patina of Christianity on top of something quite different, think carefully about what you're saying. It's very likely you're doing the much same thing and, unlike them, you don't even know it!
So now we come to Santa Claus, AKA Saint Nick, Father Christmas, Kris Kringle and Sinterklaas, who is now the God of Getting Lots of Expensive Stuff From Your Parents at Christmas, plus also the God of Coca-Cola, who the learned professoriate tells us… "may have absorbed elements of the god Odin, who was associated with the Germanic pagan midwinter event of Yule and led the Wild Hunt, a ghostly procession through the sky."
So we're back to Odin, the god of war and ignoring NORAD, and this whole discussion is already taking a nasty turn, before we even got to Krampus.
But the post-PCEE Santa has evolved too, under the pressures of the PMEC of the PMOC of the supposedly devoutly Christian Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Party of God (in Arabic, "Hezbollah"; in Canadian English, "Conservative"), changing over time from the God of War and other Important Stuff to a kindly old guy who brings presents to good little boys and girls in a magic sleigh to the angry Almighty God of the Market who tells us to be austere, and practice private medicine, or be damned.
Talk about your full-circle, huh? And where does that Jesus guy -- the one who said "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God" -- fit into this again? Like, nowhere?
The Almighty God of the Market, of course, plays the same role in the PM's actual market-fundamentalist belief system as Odin did for the proto-Germans and Jupiter for the ex-post-Romae Romans -- to wit, the Bull Goose God of gods, even, as it turns out, lording it over the jealous desert deity of the Big Three Monotheistic Religions, only one of which, thank goodness, keeps telling us we should but Christ Back Into Christmas.
I mean, if you go to one of the Manning Centre's conferences and listen carefully to what the Market Fundies say, God is great for justifying homophobia and picking up some votes from the resulting wedge, but the Market explains everything and is never wrong! Forever and ever, Amen!
OK, so now we've located Jesus, Santa Claus, Che Guevara, Odin and Preston Manning in the real post-modern market pantheon, and this brings us -- at last! -- to Krampus.
Krampus: He looks like Hell … literally … but he actually plays a somewhat more uplifting role.
Back in the day, once Germanic non-pagans were in their post-proto stage, and before Santa Claus had been converted from the Supreme God of Gods and into the Supreme God of the Market, jolly old Saint Nick handed out presents to the good children, and Krampus sought out the bad ones and kicked their asses.
Krampus looked as scary as shit, too, and he's often portrayed hauling bad little boys and girls away with ropes and chains, or by their hair. And his tongue is always hanging out, and it's about a foot long -- like, what’s with that? Plus he has cloven hooves. I mean, are we talking totally politically and religiously incorrect here, or what?
Indeed, they still have Krampus festivals in a few obscure German and Austrian towns and, I'm advised by those who are in the Teutonic know, you just don't want to go down there when they're doing it. The participants are mostly drunken post-adolescent males, with switches!
But the thing is, this is a more useful symbol than an overweight emasculated old white guy with granny glasses and a scruffy red suit giving out presents to everyone, whether they're naughty or nice, or even both. I mean, that’s like letting the government pick winners and losers, and of course, in these no-fault times, everyone who makes a nice donation to the prime minister's party has a right to be a winner! Jeeze, I can feel a good Duck Dynasty rant coming on, like, right now!
With Krampus on the scene, though, if you're good, you'll get a present from Santa. But if you're bad, you'll get something quite a bit worse than a lump of coal, and it won't be from Santa.
So think about that the next time you decide to build a bitumen pipeline across British Columbia or suspend the free-speech rights of four million Albertans!
Yes, Krampus is coming, and if you don't smarten up and fly right, he's coming for you. Maybe even on election day.
Now, that's useful symbolism. So, like I said, it's time to put the Krampus back into Christmas!
The stuff about that other guy? Forget it. It was never really about Him anyway. The season, as it turns out, is the reason!
This post also appears on David Climenhaga's blog, Alberta Diary.
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