Saturday, December 5, 2009

The Holiday Devil

So today I went to the supermarket and there were just finishing up some big children's party. As I walked out of the story I noticed several children's drawings of what appeared to be the easter bunny. I wondered why in the world they'd hang pictures of him at a time like this. I came home to find The Captain's niece and nephew gnawing on a bread version of what appeared to be the rabbit from Donnie Darko.

I neared this baked monstrosity for a closer inspection and was informed that this creature was called "Parkelj". Grandma went on to inform me that he was some bad guy who hung out with St. Nicholas (or Miklavž as he is called here) came after bad kid on St. Nicholas's holiday (which is actually today).

Internet research revealed more about this Parkelj guy who is known to our cousins the Austrians as Krampus....

Krampus is a mythical creature who accompanies Saint Nicholas in various regions of the world during the Christmas season. The word Krampus originates from the Old High German word for claw (Krampen). In the Alpine regions, Krampus is represented by a demon-like creature accompanying Saint Nicholas. Krampus acts in conjunction with Saint Nicholas; the latter gives gifts to good children, while the Krampus gives warnings and punishments to the bad children.

What...the...hell? Catholicism is wild, this shit is scarier than Freddy Krueger....and at times it's very near the line (over the line?) towards racist.

I have more questions than answers. Why would anyone let their kids accept anything from St. Nick if this is the kinda company he keeps? What in the world have I gotten myself into? This is supposed to be a jolly time of year....isn't it?



Delux said...

Sorry bb, with those dudes? You are on your own! :-)

'Drea said...

Yeah, I would not want a visit from St. Nicholas knowing that *Parkelj* is his sidekick.

Anonymous said...

Miklavž is accompanied by both parkeljs and angels. Angels help Miklavž give presents to children that have been good, parkeljs help punish the children that have been bad and as such act as a deterrent to prevent bad behaviour.
This isn't a strictly Catholic tradition, in fact it is only present in a few predominantly Catholic countries. (btw, look up Zwarte Piet if you haven't heard of him). Parkeljs are supposed to represent the devil's helpers and, as it was explained to me as a child, they're mostly black because of the coal they use to maintain the heat of Hell's fires, but the colour is not inherent to their appearance, as they can also be red or white. They're goat-like creatures, one of their legs ends as a hoof and they have horns and tails (a bit like satyrs, really, just scarier).

Anonymous said...

i think this is also connected to the thing of naughty children finding twigs and lumps of coal in your stocking on christmas morning. (ok, i know i am dating myself with that comment..) in the usa all the negative/punative aspects have been airbrushed out in the meantime so as not to hinder unbridled consumerism.

i think the krampus this is also a easier to stomach than zwarte piet considering the backdrop of judeo-christian tradition. one is a devil as counterpart to a saint; the other is a (former) slave/servant/whatever. *shrug*

Anonymous said...

Jožko Šavli's different reflections:

"Pokristjanjenje je imena starih slovenskih bogov zabrisalo, na njihova mesta je večinoma postavilo svetnike zavetnike. Tako je npr. sv. Krištof stopil na mesto starodavnega Vodnarja (Aquarius), boga živine je nadomestil sv. Lenart... Nekatere stare bogove je krščanstvo porinilo v bajke, med pravljična bitja, o katerih posebej govori del nove knjige. Primer tega, ki je mogoče še najbolj značilen, je starodavni bog Tvarog (Dvorog) ali Svarog, ki ga ni bilo mogoče pokristjaniti in tudi ne odstraniti. Postal je rogati parkelj, ki se pojavlja o Sv. Miklavžu in potem med zimo še večkrat. Dejansko je davni oče naroda, ki zaključi svoje varstvo nad njim kot Korant ob koncu zime."
(from his book 'Zlati cvet')

With love ;)

Camille Acey said...

Thanks Matjaž. The Catholic church really knows how to "remix"!

Anonymous said...

This is not racist in anyway. As with "black Pete" if you look closely, yes htey re painted black, but look at the clothing they wear. If Zwarte Pete was a slave, he would not be dressed so fancy. He is a page, and from what my grand mother Martje, who is from holland explains,his skin was black from being in chimneys. Yes, I know, then why arent his clothes dirty. The fact remains that we as modern people tend to label everything we dont agree with as racist and honestly its quite sickening. It is merely a tradition. If you live in another country, but you are not originally from there, do not label their customs. I dont find these traditions as racist, I fond them to be a look at the traditions of different cultures than our own and maybe even a little glimpse into something that we over analyze and find as negative, but when you really look at things, you will find beauty in our differences. Also, if you dont like the tradition, just ignore it, just because you dont like it doesnt mean you have to try and ruin it for everyone else. Dont be so over sensitive about ewvery little thing and you might find you will actually enjoy life.