Krampus is known as an anti-Santa, a creature who would go around with St. Nicholas and punish the naughty children rather than reward them with gifts. The legend of Krampus originated in Alpine countries, like Austria and Germany.
In recent times, Krampus parades have become popular in these countries and the traditions have carried over to the U.S. The parades have become a fun way to start the holiday season. “Krampusnacht” is traditionally Dec. 5, but Athens is starting its tradition on Dec. 4 this year. Athens will be carrying this tradition to its streets for the first time this year.
After talking to the City of Athens, Kelly Lawrence, owner of Chosen Pathways Spiritual Emporium, decided to host her own parade this Saturday at 5 p.m. Lawrence said the people of Athens love to dress up and be loud, and the parade will give them the opportunity to do just that.
“(It’s) just an opportunity to get together and walk along and be loud and boisterous,” Lawrence said. “Ring bells and bang drums, just have a lot of fun.”
Lawrence was inspired by a friend, Seamus Dillard, co-owner of The Magical Druid, to start her own Krampus Parade. Dillard’s store is located in Columbus and has been hosting a parade since 2015.
“We'd seen a couple of videos that had been circulating for some Krampus Parades, Krampus night events that were happening in Europe and (they were) very elaborate, very full costumes with fire dancing, and just amazing,” Dillard said.
After doing some thinking with his business partner, Dillard started thinking Columbus should do something like the events in Europe, asking himself “What would be the meaning behind it?”
Dillard said the parade turned into a way of taking the negativity away and relieving bad spirits out of the holiday season. The parade is a way of spreading joy and taking away the known fear of Krampus and turning it into positivity, Dillard said.
“I think what we have in common regardless of our religion, regardless of what happens in our home, is we have the idea of community, and I think that that's what the world needs now,” Dillard said. “We need to look for the things that we have in common and build towards those things.”
Those who would like to attend the Athens parade will meet at Chosen Pathways Spiritual Emporium, 400 E. State St. Suite A, and continue the walk up State Street toward the mall.
Bell ringing, drum banging and festive costumes are encouraged. Lawrence said the scarier the costume, the better. She also said Krampus masks are for sale on Etsy.
“I really am excited because I'm wearing a mask made by a local artist, and I get to be really into this character,” Emily Smith, Athens resident, said. “I'm going to be dancing around and my partner is going to wear the other mask. There's going to be lights, lanterns and everyone's wearing bells.”
Smith said the implementation of a parade will bring people together while drawing the eyes of other Athens residents.
“I'm hoping by next year people will be really inspired and be working on their costumes for quite some time and be very elaborate,” Lawrence said.
For many, Athens once again hosting holiday events is a positive way to bring people together.
“I definitely think now that we're getting out of COVID, I think it'd be really important to do (things) like tree lightings and such, because we've all just been stuck inside and trapped for the past year and a half or so,” Maiya Cunningham, a senior studying communication, said.
Lawrence said people need to be there no later than 5 p.m. and all children must be accompanied by an adult. Once the group reaches the Athens Community Center, they will enjoy doughnuts, hot cocoa and cider and walk back to Chosen Pathways.
The Krampus Parade is hoped to become an annual tradition, Lawrence said.
“It's just the beginning of something we hope will grow into something really fun and exciting,” Lawrence said.