Krampuslauf Brings Germanic Christmas Demons to Downtown Phoenix

Ho, ho, horror: Past Krampuslauf celebrants wear their most devilish attire.
Ho, ho, horror: Past Krampuslauf celebrants wear their most devilish attire.
Lytawn Crow

Nothing says “Christmas cheer” like a horned demon showing up at your door to abduct your misbehaving kids and disappear into the winter night.

So goes the story of Krampus, a Bavarian folktale that has traumatized children for centuries. Krampus is like Santa Claus’ evil twin, a half-goat demigod who spends the holiday season punishing youngsters for their misdeeds.

This Friday, you can celebrate this macabre tradition during Krampuslauf (The Krampus Walk), an unholy procession through downtown Phoenix. The small parade starts at Fair Trade Coffee in Civic Space Park at 7 p.m., then bleeds into the First Friday events on Roosevelt Row. Anybody can join in, but to really get into the pagan spirit, celebrants are encouraged to “don your finest masks, wings, and beards.”

If Krampuslauf 2016 sounds like just another co-opted hipster holiday, there’s a little more to it: The legend was dormant for a long time, but Krampus celebrations have recently enjoyed a resurgence in German-speaking countries, and 21st-century youths have gotten a kick out of old-timey monsters coming to life in the streets of Bern and Salzburg.

The local Krampuslauf is organized by the group Krampus of Phoenix and has taken place in early December since at least 2014.

While Krampus himself is the life of the party, celebrants are also encouraged to dress as angels, the Alpine goddess Perchta, and even St. Nicolas. Like any good Central European event, the festivities end in libations at Bliss Rebar.

For more information about Krampuslauf 2016, visit the event's Facebook page.


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