Seattle Krampus group honors yuletide tradition

May your holidays be merry and fright.

A cosplayer dressed in a Krampus costume in front of holiday lights.

The eyes really are “all aglow” thanks to special slits hidden in the handmade masks.

Photo via CMC Photography

He knows if you’ve been bad or good… well, mostly bad. 🎶 Yes, Krampuuuus is coming to town. 🎶

We’re crooning about the Christmas demon whose folklore roots date back centuries in the Alpine region of Europe, including Germany, Austria, and parts of Northern Italy. It’s basically Santa Claus’s less jolly sidekick, said to punish misbehaving kids with slaps of birch branches in some stories and chase away dark winter spirits in others.

The horned creature has a local presence thanks to Krampus Seattle, a cosplaying troupe looking to raise awareness about cultural customs and spread some good-natured holiday fear.

Devilishly delightful

Krampus Seattle co-founder John Hurst said he and his fellow members started out in the city’s haunted house industry building sets and costumes. In 2015, they added a Krampus element to one of the “haunts” around Halloween time, but didn’t really know much about the original winter legends.

Soon, they got really serious about it, which meant no latex masks nor references to the Hollywood horror flick. Instead, the group ordered expensive hand-carved wooden masks from Austria, and created outfits from materials like horsetails and yak fur — just as you might see in the streets of Lienz in the city’s early December Krampus Parades. Hardcore.

Three cosplayers dressed as Krampus walk down a street in the city of Leavenworth, WA

Krampus Seattle donates a portion of appearance fees to children’s charities.

Photo via CMC Photography

Where can I party with them?

Krampus Seattle made an appearance in Leavenworth last year that got some mixed reviews from some folks who misunderstood their motivation. “People sometimes want to see it as a political or religious statement, but it’s not,” said John. “It’s a Yule tradition.”

FWIW, Leavenworth’s own mayor seemed to want them back this season. But instead the group will stay more local, appearing at the retro rest stop/arcade Kringle’s Filling Station in North Seattle on Tuesday, Dec. 20 from 6-9 p.m.

There will be photo ops, hot chocolate poured from a gas pump, karaoke, a Volkswagen sleigh, and lots of other family-friendly fun. Just maybe avoid being too naughty.

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