Let's hope you've been nice this year or else you could be getting a visit from Krampus this Saturday. You almost certainly will if you're in Deep Ellum for the third annual Krampus Walk.
While Santa Claus or St. Nicholas is well known and beloved in the United States, in the Alpine region of Europe his annual visit is preceded by one from Krampus, also known as the Christmas Devil.
In the 500-year-old tradition, Krampus arrives on Dec. 5 with his twisted horns, long fangs and wild-man hair. He is looking for evil children to swat with his whip and take back to his lair in the Alps.
This is of course in contrast to St. Nicholas who arrives in the morning and fills the children's shoes, which they put out the night before, with candy.
How did Krampus find his way to Dallas?
Well, it took a local haunted house owner and a couple of friends to guide the monster to our streets.
Dan Baker is the president of the Krampus Society and the owner of Dan's Haunted House. Baker said he'd heard about Krampus through the haunted house industry and thought it would be a fun tradition to bring to Dallas.
Baker and his friends Rob Cory and Bryant Watley were the inaugural Krampus walkers. They first walked in Denton but last year moved the party to Deep Ellum where 130 people attended. This year, Baker said he expects at least 300 people to come watch the 30 to 60 dressed Krampus walkers.
The parade itself is more of a pub crawl. The gathering point and lead bar for the Krampus-dressed hoard is Wits End. There, Baker plans to go over the rules and get the crowd pumped up for the one and a half to two hour walk around Deep Ellum. If you miss them, don't worry, they are making the loop at least twice.
Is it authentic?
Baker and the Krampus Society work to make the Dallas event as true to the tradition as possible.
While the Krampus fell out of style during the 1960s and 70s, Germans and Austrians have been reviving the tradition as one way to counter the American and commercialized Christmas festivities (think Elf on a Shelf).
Traditionally, the Krampus masks are handcrafted using alpine wood. In the Munich, participants in the annual Krampuslauf run through the Christmas Market in Marienplatz are required to wear one such mask and then sheep or goat pelts and carry a switch.
Here is a great video produced last year by The New York Times about the Krampuslauf and the creation of the wooden masks that are integral to the event:
In Dallas, Baker said that there are a number of people who make and sell the masks. His co-founder Bryant Watley is one such craftsperson.
He also said that some people take costumes they already have, like a Big Foot costume for example, and affix Krampus-style horns to them.
A big part of the tradition, as you can see in the video, are bells. Baker and the Krampus Society have those covered. "The more bells the better," Baker said.
What to expect?
Don't expect: Dwight Schrute's impression of Krampus named Belsnickel.
Don't expect: That this will be the last you hear of Krampus. Krampus, the holiday-horror movie starring Adam Scott is in theaters now and is spurring much of the buzz around bringing the monster to America.
Don't expect: To see Krampus running in the streets or blocking traffic. Baker said staying on the sidewalk is one of the rules, so is not being a jerk — not being a jerk is the absolute No. 1 rule of Krampus Walk.
Do expect: The event to be family friendly. He said that many Krampus walkers bring their kids and that after the walk those with families usually go home and the other Krampuses will hit the bars for Krampus-themed drinks.
Do expect: For Krampus to interact with you. The walkers are encouraged to take photos with onlookers. But they are also instructed to be respectful of those not into being hugged by a furry horned Christmas-beast.
So people of Deep Ellum, Baker said, don't be afraid when you see 60 or so monsters running down the street Saturday night. They just want to have fun.