Scary Christmas! Krampus party celebrates creepy holiday legend

Scary Christmas! Krampus party celebrates creepy holiday legend
Associated Press / Martin Schalk

SantaCon never made it to Bushwick, but the evil twin of Saint Nick is coming to Gowanus on Dec. 20.

The Morbid Anatomy Museum is once again throwing its annual Krampus Costume Party, celebrating the more sinister side of the holiday season.

“We’ve got the whole naughty or nice thing, it even has a song, but Krampus really reinforces what happens if you’re naughty,” said Joanna Ebenstein, the museum’s creative director.

According to Eastern European lore, Krampus is a companion of Saint Nicholas who enforces the harsh side of justice while the jolly guy in the red suit hands out the treats. The mythical creature sports horns, gnarled features, and a penchant for kidnapping naughty children and whipping them with a birch bark switch, so he poses far more of a threat than the odd piece of stocking coal American kids have to fear.

Ebenstein first discovered the anti-Santa when she was living in Hungary. She said Krampus captivated her because he was a perfect illustration of how people on this side of the Atlantic Ocean shy away from unpleasantness.

“Krampus really shows how Americans often just focus on the good aspects of things,” she said. “In Eastern Europe, where history has been a lot harsher, there is not such an easy out. If you’re a bad kid, you might be beaten with a birch switch.”

The museum threw its first Krampus party six years ago, and the event has grown into a big annual tradition since then. This year’s festivities will include a talk from a Krampus expert, disc jockey Vince Clarke (formerly of New Wave pioneers Depeche Mode) spinning tunes, a Krampus costume contest, raffles, free booze and Krampus cake, drag and burlesque performances, and a photo booth designed to look like the basket Krampus uses to kidnap misbehaving kids.

And, of course, both Saint Nicholas and Krampus themselves will drop by to decide whether you have been naughty or nice this year.

Krampus Costume Party at the Morbid Anatomy Museum [424-A Third Ave. between Sixth and Seventh streets in Gowanus, (347) 799–1017, www.morbi‌danat‌omymu‌seum.org]. Dec. 20 at 8 pm. $25, $15 for museum members.

Reach reporter Noah Hurowitz at nhuro‌witz@‌cnglo‌cal.com or by calling (718) 260–4505. Follow him on Twitter @noahhurowitz
The cake is a lie: The Krampus Costume Party always features a Krampus cake.
Morbid Anatomy Museum