United Brethren has retired.

Santa's evil twin

Let me first wish UB readers a very happy Kwanzaa, Divali, and Hanukkah.

I have only felt real fear three times in my life. The first was when I completely lost the road as I was driving at night and ended up in the central reservation. The second was on the NY subway not long after 9/11 when someone shouted "bomb" and the station erupted into chaos. The third was on my mission in Austria when a group of local thugs wearing grotesque masks and carrying big sticks came up the road towards us. I speak of Krampus.

In Austria, St. Nick makes his rounds on December 6 to see if children have been good. The day before, Krampus stops by to see if children have been naughty. If they have they risk being beaten and/or carried away in a bag. One Austrian bloke I met told me that "Krampus" (really his uncle) threw him in a sack when he was a little boy. He hasn't been quite the same since.

Anyway, Krampustag is an excuse for local yobs to roam the streets beating the crap out of people (the police don't care, because, hey, it's tradition). Mormon missionaries are fair game, so on that day in the Salzkammergut in December 1996, we ran for our lives.

Krampus is truly scary. All my son is scared of this Christmas (whoops, did I say Christmas? I meant "this Holiday Season") is not getting tons of presents. Spoilt.

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Anonymous Anonymous said ... (December 22, 2004 5:47 PM) 

How about a "Happy Festivus" for the rest of us? Tomorrow's the big day.

I assume you escaped from the thugs. Or no?  

Posted by Justin


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (December 22, 2004 6:15 PM) 

Forget Festivus. Merry Smithmas!

Yes, we escaped. In hindsight we should have stood our ground and rebuked them. Actually, no... 

Posted by Ronan


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (December 22, 2004 7:33 PM) 

Bah humbug! Smithmas doesn't have any heartwarming traditions attached to it.

Festivus has:

The Festivus Pole
The Airing of Grievances
The Feats of Strength

At least you should have dusted your feet against the thugs...


Posted by Justin


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (January 06, 2005 7:23 PM) 

What a scary holiday. And sadly, familiar.

In San Pedro, Guatemala (and other parts, I think) they have a season where the kids run around in masks, it's an old Indian tradition. It has degenerated into a time where the youths will get together in groups of ten or more, and beat up and rob people they find. It's worse for women, of course -- they're likely to be groped, sometimes stripped, and occasionally full-blown gang-raped.

My comp and I came across a group of these fellows who had cornered a young girl. We waded in and blocked them, and (seeing as they were all high-school-age Guatemalans, around 5'0" and 100 lbs, while my comp and I were both 6 foot gringoes), they decided to look for easier prey.

(If they had decided to make an issue of it, we would certainly have lost -- we were outnumbered something like ten to two. But we would have inflicted some damage in the process.)

I'm glad there are no such holidays in the States. (That I'm aware of).  

Posted by Kaimi


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