Bad Santa - St Nicholas's alter-ego

When winter starts in early December, St Nicholas comes to visit the good children of Germany, filling their clean and shiny shoes with sweets and treats; the smarter kids have been known to clean their parents’ shoes and boots as well as their own! St. Nicholas passes by any unshone shoes left by the lazy boys and girls, who might (just might) be left a disappointing piece of coal or a bundle of twigs as symbolic reference to the birch and the threat of primitive corporal punishment. It's usually enough to frighten naughty kids into good behaviour - for a while at least! Across the Alps and a great swathe of Central Europe, good St Nicholas has had a sinister accomplice with him on his house calls for a very long time: Krampus. Half demon, half goat, horned and hairy, it’s Krampus that leaves the nasty surprises. He’s said to beat the naughty children, or carry them off in a cage or sack he carries over his back the way St Nicholas does. St Nicholas’s feast day of 6th December is preceded by Krampusnacht, and many towns and villages hold a Krampus run: it’s a noisy night of raucous mayhem, of schnapps, smoke and fireworks; a delicious opportunity to misbehave (a little) and in these shots from Nicolò Miana it seems the bad kids are having all the fun again!

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