I attended my first Krampuslauf in December of last year. I discovered the event through a link on krampus.com when I was researching more about the character.
So, who or what is Krampus? If Santa brings presents to the nice kids, what happens to the naughty kids? That’s where Krampus comes in. He accompanies Santa to swat the bad kids with branches and chains before shoving them into his basket and taking them away. Consider him the Christmas devil, as that is how he is depicted.
I wasn’t sure what to expect when I arrived at Liberty Lands Park in the Northern Liberties section of Philadelphia. Some people were plainly-dressed spectators, while others wore elaborate costumes. There were several variations of Krampus, not to mention creatures you might find in a mythical land. A bonfire was lit to warm the crowd before the parade commenced. After a short invocation and carol, the crowd assembled into a line and left the park.
The parade was open to anyone who wished to participate. Even though I was only there to watch, I fell in line to experience the parade. It was quite a spectacle, as onlookers gawked at the scene through store windows. One establishment handed cups of hot cider to grateful participants along the parade route.
After our short walk, we returned to the park to enjoy bread and more apple cider by the fire. Everyone I met was warm, inviting, and happy to have their picture taken. I plan to participate next year, except I will be better dressed for the occasion. I already have sleigh bells to shake in 2015’s parade.