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Cult of Weird Holiday Gift Guide 2019

Stuff your stockings with this year’s Christmas atrocities! Find the perfect weird gifts for the creeps and deviants on your shopping list.
Dark, weird, creepy and gothic Christmas gift ideas - Cult of Weird holiday gift guide 2019

Welcome to the 6th annual exhumation of ghoulish Christmas goodies here at Cult of Weird! As is tradition, I’ve gathered a fine selection of oddities and curiosities from some of my favorite purveyors of the strange and unusual. This year’s offerings include prints by artists whose work have wormed their into my cold dead heart this year, new books examining reports of strange creatures both past and present, and handcrafted oddities.

NOTE: Many of these items are handcrafted and one-of-a-kind, so they may not be available long.

No Corpses Sticker

No corpses are kept in this vehicle overnight
Whether you drive a hearse or a Prius, keep your corpses safe from body snatchers with these vinyl stickers from Dead Sled Brand.
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Miracle Elixir Hot Sauce

Miracle elixir hot sauce from Death-Ray Design
This hot sauce from Death-Ray Design will cure all your ailments! Garlicky Louisiana style hot sauce with a touch of snake oil.
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Mounted Octopus Tentacle

Octopus tentacle taxidermy by ScientificWoman
A real octopus tentacle preserved and mounted by ScientificWoman.
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Dead Inside But It’s Christmas

When you're dead inside but it's Christmas sweater
Nothing quite embodies the holiday feels around Cult of Weird HQ as this new Christmas sweater from Foxblood.
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Krampus Shrine Christmas Ornament

Krampus Christman ornaments
No Christmas is complete without some handmade Krampus goods by Divine Excesss.
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Forgotten English & Folklore Calendar

Forgotten english and folklore 2020 calendar
A 2020 daily calendar of archaic words, arcane holidays, traditions, superstitions, historical curiosities, and more.
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Heart & Brain Cookie Cutters

Anatomical heart and brain cookie cutters by Bakerlogy
Add some creep to your Christmas cookies with this set of anatomical heart and brain cookie cutters from Bakerlogy.
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Skull Speaker

Wireless bluetooth skull speaker
A wireless bluetooth speaker shaped like a human skull.
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Bone Pentagram Necklace

Pewter bone penatgram necklace
Handmade pewter bone star with mini skull and black Austrian crystal drop.
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Haserot Angel Night Light

Haserot angel night light
A nightlight made from a 3D image of the Haserot angel monument at Lakeview cemetery in Cleveland Ohio.
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Cabinet of Curiosities Mug

Cabinet of curiosities mug
Handmade enamel-coated steel mug with an original cabinet of curiosities design by The Creeping Moon.
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Glass Calavera

Glass calavera
A stained glass hand holding a real calavera loteria card by spooky glass artist Brittany Testa.
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Spiritus Colloquium Ouija Board Game

Spiritus Colloquium Ouija Board Game
Contact the post-living with the deluxe Spiritus Colloquium parlor board game.
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Necro Maria

Necro Maria by Billelis
Necro Maria II print by 3D artist Billelis.
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Gold Cicada

Framed gold cicada
A framed gold cicada ethically sourced, preserved, and framed by The Butterfly Babe.
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Tomb Sweet Tomb

Tomb Sweet Tomb
The stockings are hung by the coffin with care, and this art print by the Crafty BurrEato better be in there.
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The Lake Michigan Mothman

The Lake Michigan Mothman book by Tobias Wayland
There have been numerous sightings of a large winged humanoid near the shores of Lake Michigan in recent years. Tobias Wayland of the Singular Fortean Society explores these encounters through the stories of the witnesses themselves and offers insight as a member of the investigative team.
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Moon Phases Wall Decor

Moon phases wall decor
A handmade set of wood moon phases to hang on your wall.
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Snake Globe

Snake wet specimens
Rattlesnake or python wet specimens in a 5 inch glass globe with ornate base.
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Corpse Meditation

Corpse Meditation art print by Landis Blair
A signed art print by Landis Blair of “Corpse Meditation,” an illustration originally created for the book From Here to Eternity by Caitlin Doughty.
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Ghost in the Mirror

Victorian ghost in a mirror
A hand painted resin sculpture of a Victorian ghost emerging from a mirror by Dellamorte & Co. Glows in the dark!
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Cult of Weird Goat Skull T-shirt

Cult of Weird goat skull occult t-shirt
This is probably the first time there has been Cult of Weird swag available to indoctrinate your loved ones with for Christmas, so some shameless self promotion is in order.
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Charles Manson Mug

Charles Manson mug
You just have to try a little harder to stand out from the crowd. Use code CULT to save 15% on all orders from Hammer and Bone until 12/31/2019.
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Gilded Antlion

Antlion specimen by Skullpturas
A genuine antlion specimen (a large four winged insect similar in appearance to a dragonfly) with its wings covered in either gold or copper from Skullpturas.
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Monsters in Print

Monsters in Print book
Adam Benedict, a researcher of cryptozoology and folklore over at The Pine Barrens Institute, assembled this bizarre and amazing collection of strange creature encounters printed in newspapers during the 1800s and 1900s.
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Lovecraft Bust

Bust of H.P. Lovecraft
Handmade 1/4 scale sculpture of H.P. Lovecraft.
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Skull Necklace

Skull necklace from Leviticus Jewlery
Handcrafted sterling silver necklace from Leviticus Jewelry.
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Lonely Ghost

Lonely ghost art print by Laurie A. Conley
A ghost and a grave under a tree and full moon. Print by artist Laurie A. Conley.
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Triple Moon Goddess Pendant

Triple moon goddess woodburned pendant
Handmade wood pendant with woodburned moon and forest design and gemstone.
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Baphomet Statue

Baphomet statue from the Satanic Temple
Who needs an elf on the shelf when you can have Baphomet! A small replica of The Satanic Temple’s controversial Baphomet monument.
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Bad Advice Butterfly

Bad Advice Butterfly
Taxidermist Jack Devaney, creator of the rabbit toaster and other strange and disturbing works, mounted these butterflies on pages of an old book teaching women “how to get a man.”
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Chocolate Anatomical Hearts

Chocolate anatomical hearts by Conjurer's Kitchen
Handmade miniature chocolate anatomical hearts from Conjurer’s Kitchen.
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Krampus Decoration

Krampus art by Meagan Meli
Krampus art inspired by vintage holiday decor from spooky artist Meagan Meli.
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Shark Mandible Necklace

Shark jaw necklace
Gold-painted shark jaw and white turquoise necklace crafted by Gypsy Warrior Tribe.
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Sheep Skull

Sheep skull
Painted and carved sheep skull from Bloodreligion.
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Gothic Bat Pillow

Gothic Victorian bat pillow
Red damask Victorian bat throw pillow.
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Diaphonized Eel Earrings

Diaphonized eel earrings
Diaphonized eels in test tube earrings.
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Death’s Head Moth Ouija Board

Deaths Head moth ouija board
Hand painted golden death’s head moth ouija board from Pandora Witch Shop.
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Creepy Charm Bracelet

Creepy charm bracelet
Pick your creepy charms to create a custom sterling silver bracelet from As Above.
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Original Art by Lauren Nova

Original art by Lauren Nova
“Form Follows Fractal Function” original graphite and white charcoal drawing by Lauren Nova.
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Bats Tree Skirt

Gothic tree skirt
Complete your creepy Christmas with a black tree skirt covered in bats.
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Idle Hands Wrapping Paper

Skeleton hand wrapping paper from Skelly Paper Company
Black wrapping paper with skeleton hands from Skelly Paper Co.
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Merry Creepmas Wrapping Paper

Merry Creepmas creepy gothic wrapping paper
Merry Creepmas black Christmas wrapping paper.
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Baphomet Christmas Stocking

Satanic Christmas stocking
Hail Santa with this cheery Baphomet Christmas stocking.
BUY HERE

Want more books? Check out this year’s morbid must-reads.

Need more ideas?
Browse the weird holiday gift guides of Cultmas past: 2014 | 2015 | 2016 | 2017 | 2018

Cult of Weird holiday gift guide

Cult of Weird 2017 Holiday Gift Guide

The gift guide for those of us who would rather find our stockings stuffed with the feet they came from.

It’s that special time of year when we hope to find skulls, vintage occult artifacts, disturbing books, and mummified human remains under the tree…but end up with matching monogram socks and stationary, instead. So this Christmas, whether you’re shopping for a weirdo, or you are the weirdo, the Cult of Weird holiday gift guide is here to ease your suffering.

At least a little. We can’t do much about the music and merriment.

Cursed Decadence Planchette

Cursed Decadence Ouija board planchette
Contact the spirits in decadent style with this lavishly sculpted resin planchette with metallic finish.
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Hearse Enamel Pin

Hearse enamel pin from Dead Sled Brand
From my friends at Dead Sled Brand, this enameled black and silver hearse pin is perfect for the hearse driver or general death enthusiast whose corpse is cooling on your Christmas list this year.
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Bird Foot Crystal Pendant

Bird foot crystal pendant
Conjure some Norse heathenry with this Freja pendant from Bloodreligion, featuring a preserved magpie foot clutching a quartz crystal sphere on black leather cord.
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The Divine Crucible Print

The Divine Crucible art print from Poison Apple Printshop
An original art print by Adrienne Rozzi of Poison Apple Printshop
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Bone Sculpture

Bone sculpture
Created by Lee Harper of History Bones, this small, intricate bone sculpture includes a variety of real animal bones, including a bird skull.
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Illusions: The Art of Magic

Illusions: The Art of Magic book
This book brings together 250 vintage ad posters from the Golden Age of Magic, featuring dark and mystical imagery – devils, skulls, spirits – to promote the acts of Herrmanns, Kellar, Thurston, Houdini, and more.
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Charles Manson Christmas Ornament

Charles Manson Christmas Ornament
‘Tis the season for obscene Christmas ornaments, and with the recent passing of America’s favorite madman cult leader, this seems appropriate.
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Cemetery Dirt & Bone Keychain

Keychain with cemetery dirt and a small bone inside
Nothing says Merry Christmas like a keychain containing a small animal bone and actual dirt from an old cemetery.
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For the taphophile in your life, these two books are Cult of Weird community favorites from this year’s morbid must-reads:

199 Cemeteries to See Before You Die

199 Cemeteries to See Before You Die by Loren Rhoads
A hauntingly beautiful travel guide to the world’s most visited cemeteries, told through spectacular photography and their unique histories and residents.
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Understanding Cemetery Symbols

Understanding Cemetery Symbols guide
While wandering around those cemeteries, this guide will help your favorite taphophiliac decipher the meaning of the symbolism found on gravestones.
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Memento Mori Gothic Death Candles

Memento Mori gothic death candles
Ponder mortality with these ivory pillar candles featuring vintage memento mori imagery.
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Bone Appetit Skeletal Dinner Plates

Bone Appetit skeletal dinner plates
Dine with the dead with a set of four ceramic 9-inch dinner plates emblazoned with skeletal human remains.
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Mourning Eye Onyx Necklace

Bloodmilk mourning eye necklace
This talisman from Bloodmilk Jewels features a sterling silver eye with an onxy tear for comfort and protection.
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Please Go Die Insult Teacup

Insult Teacut
Speak your mind with a fancy insult teacup and saucer from Miss Havisham’s Curiosities.
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A Thousand Creeping Things

A Thousand Creeping Things by Collin Landis
This collection of 18 short tales of the “fantastic, terrifying, and just plain weird” by author Collin Landis is the perfect addition to bookshelf of weird fiction fans.
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Roadkill Keychains

Dead When We Met roadkill keychains from Asylum Artwork
It was dead when we met! These keychains from Asylum Artwork are the perfect stocking stuffers for the ethical taxidermist or roadkill enthusiast in your life.
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Cauldron Bath Bombs

Cauldron bath bombs from The Strange and Unusual
Handmade bath bombs from The Strange and Unusual Oddities Parlor, made with natural ingredients and include small keepsakes inside.
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Baphomet Mug

Baphomet mug from The Satanic Temple
This Baphomet mug was designed Matthew Murray of The Black Veil Studio for The Satanic Temple.
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Stardust Ring

Stardust Ring from The Small Beast
Handmade to order by The Small Beast, the Stardust Ring features a highly textured, hand-carved sterling silver ring with 3 raw Herkimer diamonds held in claw settings.
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Tarot and Oracle Card Bundle

Tarot and oracle card decks
Animalis Os Fortuna tarot deck and Azúcar Bone Oracle deck with companion books featuring original artwork by Megan Weber of Zaheroux.
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Pentacle Pendant

Pentacle pendant from Burial Ground
A sterling silver twig pentacle on antiqued chain from Burial Ground.
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Ride or Die Pin

Ride or Die cloisonné pin by Bill Crisafi
Ride or Die cloisonné pin featuring a witch riding a goat by Salem, MA artist Bill Crisafi.
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Wisdom Art Print

Wisdom art print by Rebecca Yanovskaya
Gallery-quality giclée print of “Wisdom,” an original ballpoint open and gold leaf work by artist Rebecca Yanovskaya.
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Deaths Head Moth Pendant

Deaths Head Moth pendant
Mortuus pendant with magical garnets in the wings from Bloody Mary Metal.
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Bat Figurine

Bat figurine
These small bat figurines from The Bleep Bloop Shop would make the perfect addition to the gothic Christmas tree this year.
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Articulated Bullfrog Skeleton

Articulated bullfrog skeleton
A genuine articulated bullfrog skeleton in display case from Hammer and Bone.
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“Self Portrait” by Crystal Lee Lucas

Self Portrait photo print by Crystal Lee Lucas
This is one of many beautiful and haunting works by Crystal Lee Lucas available on her website.
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Framed Spider Web

Framed spider web
A real preserved spider web in a black oval frame from Half Embalmed.
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Plush Bunny with Removable Organs

Giblets plush bunny with removable organs
Giblets the white plush bunny holds it’s own brain, and opens up so you can remove other organs. Best stocking stuffer ever.
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Go to Hell! Board Game

Go to Hell board game
Try to avoid Heaven as you navigate Dante through the 7 deadly sins in a race to the 9th circle of Hell.
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Heilung Live at Castlefest

Heilung live at Castlefest
Download the full live performance of neofolk band Heilung’s hypnotic live debut at Castlefest 2017.
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Of course, Christmas wouldn’t be complete without Krampus:

Krampus Ornament

Krampus ornament
An adorable Krampus for your Christmas tree, complete with a switches for punishing anyone who’s been naughty.
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Naughty or Nice? Krampus Soap

Krampus soap
These “anti-claus” stocking stuffers are made with 100% coconut oil and come in two different scents: Fjord and Glogg.
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Krampus Candle

Krampus candle
Illuminate your Christmas festivities with these Mulled Wine-scented soy candles from Heathen Wax Works featuring the beloved Christmas devil himself.
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Gruss vom Krampus Throw Pillow

Gruss vom Krampus throw pillow
Red and black Krampus throw pillow inspired by vintage Gruss vom Krampus postcards.
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Need more weird gift ideas?

Take a look at gift guides from previous years for inspiration:

Share your weird Christmas with us on Instagram! Throw a Santa hat on something strange and tag your photo #MerryCultmas.

Minnesota Krampus Brings Old World Folklore to Modern Christmas

This raucous group of Krampus and hexen is steeped in folklore and working to bring authentic Alpine holiday traditions to the Midwest.
Minnesota Krampus
Minnesota Krampus

Krampus is an ongoing tradition in different regions of Europe for thousands of years that’s based from folklore in Alpine towns. Krampus was said to be a horned hairy demon, usually black or brown in color. He has hooves and a long pointed tongue surrounded by sharp fangs. He comes in the middle of the night to punish the misbehaved children by giving them coal and swatting them with ruten or bundles of birch branches. The ruten had more of a significance in pre-Christian pagan initiations rites. When Christianity was introduced Krampus remained but was joined by Saint Nicholas who would give gifts to the good children. Sometimes Krampus was seen with a basket/bag on his back, this was to take the evil children away to be drowned, eaten, or transported to Hell. The basket or bag became a part of the legend to reference and remind that the Moors raided the European coasts to abduct the locals into slavery. Some of these similar qualities can be found in Zwarte Piet and Saint Nicholas in Germany.

As the legends changed throughout the years the tradition remained the same in most areas. There’s Krampusnacht or Krampus night, on the night of December 5th and the Feast of St. Nicholas is on December 6th. On Krampusnacht is when you can see a Krampuslauf or Krampus run where it’s customary to offer schnapps to Krampus at the Kampuslauf. This is a horrifying parade with fire and whips, so I find it reasonable to bring some schnapps along! So, if you’ve been a good little boy or girl, you’ll live to survive another year but if you were bad, look out!

In the early 1800s Krampus post cards called Krampuskarten became very popular. They started with a more fighting version of Krampus along with funny rhymes and poems. Followed by some sexual overtones in later years. Krampus was often seen spanking women or chasing after them. Modern versions of Krampuskarten gave him a cute and sweet look.

Many articles have been written by different anthropologists over the years to explain more of the pagan origin of this pre-Christian folklore.

In 1958, a brief article by Maurice Bruce wrote:

There seems to be a little doubt as to his true identity for, in no other form is the full regalia of the Horned God of the Witches so well preserved. The birch may have a connection with the initiation rites of certain witch-covens; rites which entailed binding and scourging as a form of mock-death. The chains could have been introduced in a Christian attempt to ‘bind the Devil’ but again they could be a remnant of pagan initiation rites.

While anthropologist, John J. Honigmann was discussing his observations in 1975 in Irdning, Styria:

The Saint Nicholas festival we are describing incorporates cultural elements widely distributed in Europe, in some cases going back to pre-Christian times. Nicholas himself became popular in German around the eleventh century. The feast dedicated to this patron of children is only one winter occasion in which children are the objects of special attention, others being Martinmas, the Feast of the Holy Innocents, and New Year’s Day. Masked devils acting boisterously and making nuisances of themselves are known in German since at least the sixteenth century while animal masked devils combining dreadful-comic (schauriglustig) antics appeared in Medieval church plays. A large literature, much of it by European folklorists, bears on these subjects. … Austrians in the community we studied are quite aware of “heathen” elements being blended with Christian elements in the Saint Nicholas customs and in other traditional winter ceremonies. They believe Krampus derives from a pagan supernatural who was assimilated to the Christian devil.

Based on some of these studies my curiosity was stirring. Lucky for me, this past October I had the chance to meet and talk with the Minnesota Krampus non-profit organization (from Saint Paul, MN) at the Milwaukee Paranormal Conference.

Wood-carved Krampus masks

While admiring the exquisite costumes, I had a chance to interview the founder, Ty Schenk and his lovely wife, Nona. This is what Ty had to tell me about their organization:

Can you explain a short explanation of Krampus and why you formed this group?

Ty: My research of Krampus is specific to the folklore celebration around Salzburg, Austria. According to their oral tradition, Krampus is described as a creature, larger than a man, covered in fur, with large exotic horns (as many as four or six), and hunts the mountain passes in the eastern alpine realm. Krampus was part of pre-Christian traditions of alpine paganism that represented the harshness and wilderness of the winter forest. During the Christianization period of Salzburg (600-900AD), the popularity of Krampus was so strong that the Catholic church is said to have made concessions that allowed the continued celebration, if the alpine people convert to Christianity and if Krampus was paired with St Nikolaus.

I was raised in the German-American ethnic community in the Twin Cities and have my bachelors in German Studies from the University of Minnesota. During my undergrad, I had the opportunity to live in Salzburg for two years and I was able to experience and explore the richness of the local culture in a way that cannot be easily achieved by being a tourist. When I moved back to the States, I slowly saved enough money to buy my first Krampus mask/suit and founded Minnesota Krampus, as a 501c3 educational charity, to preserve and promote the Salzburger traditions of St Nikolaus and Krampus in Minnesota. I am lucky to have a growing membership that is passionate about representing St Nikolaus and Krampus “the right way.”

Who makes your costumes and what are they made of?

Each element of our Krampus suit is imported from Austria and made by master craftsmen. Our wooden masks are carved out of Swiss pine, adorned with glass eyes and billy goat horns, and covered with yak and goat hair. Our suits are sewn together using long haired goat hides, measured to the wearer, come in two parts (trousers and jackets). We use wide leather belts with large flat cowbells and giant round sleigh-bell shaped bells (called “schellen”). Our Krampus are as authentic as those running through the streets of Salzburg, without the fear of being struck with cow tail whips and bundles of birch branches.

Hand-crafted wooden Krampus mask
Hand-carved, unpainted wooden Krampus mask

Since all of the masks are carved out of wood and painted by hand, how long does it take to make one? You have different versions of the masks and costumes, is there any reason for that?

It is important for Krampus organizations, like ours, to have Krampus look like they belong together. Because of this, our carver takes orders from groups and will carve sets of masks that are similar but all uniquely different (facial expressions, carved facial hair, etc). When I ask our carver how many hours it takes to finish a mask, he replies: many, until it is just right and when he, himself, would wear the mask. In addition to our Krampus masks, we have one young witch mask with two small differences: glowing glass eyes and ram horns.

What does Krampus use to keep children in line and why does Krampus wear bells and chain/shackles?

In Austria, Krampus uses cow tail or horse tail whips, switches, or bundles of birch sticks. When visiting a Krampuslauf (or “Krampus run”), you may notice that Krampus strike their victims low. There are two important reasons for this: avoid heads/faces and avoid puffy winter jackets — most winter jackets shield Krampus aggression better than denim jeans. The Krampus bells (and sometimes chains/shackles) serve two main purposes: (1) symbolize their servitude to St Nikolaus and (2) as an advanced notification system to naughty children that Krampus are coming. Nothing is more frightening than the bells of a Krampus group echoing through the narrow streets of Salzburg.

What is the most unique experience you’ve had while at a festival or convention?

Being part of a unique group, it’s only fitting that we’ve had a lot of unique experiences. The most shocking was: during the 2016 St Paul Winter Carnival (King Boreas Grand Parade), a visually inebriated young woman ran into the street ahead of us, told one of our Krampus “I’m not scared of you” and proceed to bite the Krampus’s nose. As quickly as she arrived, she disappeared and we couldn’t help but laugh through the rest of the parade. Thankfully, no teeth marks were left on the mask. Our funniest was: during a 2015 event, a Grandmother and pre-teen grand-daughter come up to us while we were posing for photos. The grandmother told us that we were “too scary” for her grand-daughter and the grand-daughter turned to her grandmother in disgust saying “Grandma — no they’re not! My mom told me all about them before today.” The look on the grandmother’s face was priceless — never underestimate the curiosity and bravery of children discovering Krampus for the first time.

How can people find your group for bookings, donations, and upcoming events?

Information regarding upcoming events can be found by following us on social media (instagram.com/minnesotakrampus and facebook.com/minnesotakrampus) or visiting our homepage (http://www.minnesotakrampus.com), and inquiries about booking Minnesota Krampus for your festival or event can be sent to minnesotakrampus@gmail.com. I would encourage everyone to visit our online store and know that donations are tax-deductible.

krampus-masks

krampus-costume

All photos courtesy of Minnesota Krampus.

Recap of the 2016 Milwaukee Paranormal Conference

A quick recap of the 2016 Milwaukee Paranormal Conference with appearances by Loren Coleman, Butch Patrick, Katrina Weidman, Linda S. Godfrey and more.
Milwaukee Paranormal Conference 2016

The Milwaukee Paranormal Conference was originally dreamed up last year by author Tea Krulos as a release party for his book Monster Hunters. Rather than take the spotlight, however, he decided to organize a celebration of the bizarre with authors, artists, vendors, filmmakers, ghost tours, and numerous experts in the fields of cryptozoology, folklore, paranormal investigation, and haunted places. Due to the success of last year’s event, Tea promised bigger and better in 2016…and he did not disappoint.

Related: The Milwaukee Paranormal Conference needs your help!

The conference was held this weekend at the University of Milwaukee Student Union with a packed vendor floor and two halls hosting panels and speakers throughout both Saturday and Sunday. The Cult of Weird table was perfectly positioned between Grave Digger Candles and J. Nathan Couch, author of Goatman: Flesh or Folklore?

Butch Patrick, the actor who played Eddie Munster, was a last minute addition since he just happened to be in the area. I couldn’t resist picking up an autographed Johnny Lightning Dragula for my fledgling diecast hearse collection.

eddie-munster-dragula
The Munsters diecast Dragula autographed by Butch Patrick

Butch Patrick who played Eddie Munster
Me with Butch Patrick (Eddie Munster)

The first speaker I caught was Linda S. Godfrey, author of Monsters Among Us, American Monsters, and many more. She covered 25 years of investigation into eyewitness accounts of dogmen in the Midwest, a phenomena she first encountered in the late 1980s when she reported on the Beast of Bray Road sightings near Delavan, Wisconsin for a local newspaper.

Linda Godfrey speaking about sightings of dogmen in the Midwest
Linda Godfrey speaking about dogman sightings in the Midwest.

Later there was a Q&A session with Katrina Weidman from the Destination America series Paranormal Lockdown, where she talked about some of the most convincing evidence she has collected, as well as the upcoming Halloween special in which she and Nick Groff (formerly of Ghost Adventures) investigate the Black Monk House. That was followed by The Roswell Debate with Donald R. Schmitt and Mark O’Connell. Both were involved in last year’s conference, but I didn’t have a chance to catch them this time around.

Loren Coleman
Me with Loren Coleman

The day culminated in a thoroughly fascinating presentation by International Museum of Cryptozoology founder Loren Coleman on the Minnesota Iceman, reports of Bigfoot abducting dogs and children, and the current clown hysteria as it relates to a long history of phantom clown sightings. It was Coleman’s first appearance in Milwaukee, providing the opportunity to have Terry Cullen get onstage and recount his early encounter with the Iceman.

Cullen was a zoology student in Milwaukee when he found the stinking, rotting corpse of a hairy hominid at Chicago’s International Livestock Exhibition and Fair in 1968. Of course, many great hoaxes have been perpetuated in dimly lit tents. Cullen said he always paid to get into those exhibits so he could learn what fakes look like. But the Iceman was different. He had the opportunity to examine the body better than anyone since, and remains convinced it was authentic.

For more on the Iceman read Neanderthal: The Strange Saga of the Minnesota Iceman by Bernard Heuvelmans. Coleman provided an afterword to this newly translate edition of one of the best books on the topic.

On a side note, when you have the opportunity to buy a plaster cast of a Bigfoot print from the Patterson-Gimlin filmsite signed by Loren Coleman…you do it.

Bigfoot cast signed by Loren Coleman
Bigfoot cast from the Patterson-Gimlin filmsite signed by Loren Coleman

Wisconsin’s Wildest Urban Legends panel happened Sunday with Tea at the helm. J. Nathan Couch discussed the connection between goatman and Lover’s Lane legends. Valerie Kedrowski of the Steven’s Point Paranormal Club shed some light on roads with a ghostly reputation such as Paradise Road and Boy Scout Lane. Christina and I talked about the bizarre history of St. Nazianz and JFK Prep, as well as the circumstances surrounding the allegedly haunted cauldron believed to have been owned by Ed Gein. Tea went over some of the locations where the ghost of Al Capone are said to roam.

Minnesota Krampus

One of the defining moments of the afternoon was the Krampus parade, in which members of the Minnesota Krampus group stalked through the vendor hall in their traditional goat hide costumes with menacing hand-carved masks, flogging any unfortunate soul who happened to get in their way.

At the end of the day we had the pleasure of hearing the top three winners of the summer writing contest read their submissions. It was great meeting everyone and catching up with all the amazing folks we met last year.

UPDATE: Listen to the top 5 submission right here.

Vintage Haskelite mystic tray
Vintage 1940s Hasko Mystic Tray for sale from Steve and Kim of Kadywumpus

Artist Cait May
Artist Cait May. She had an amazing lake monster print I should have bought. See more of her work at www.caitmayart.com

Christina with one of the Minnesota Krampus
Christina with a Krampus

Zombeans by Donovan Scherer
Zombeans by author/illustrator Donovan Scherer

What would D.B. Cooper do? bumper sticker

Watch for more photos from the conference at www.milwaukeeparacon.com

Naughty or Nice? The Beasts Come Out for Bloomington Krampus Night

A pack of Krampus terrorized the streets of Bloomington, Indiana last night for the annual Krampus Night event.
Krampus Night in Bloomington, Indiana

Krampus Night? What is it? According to Austro-Barvarian folklore, Krampus is a huge, sinister, horned beast that has been enslaved by St. Nicholas. As Old Nick journeys across the Alpine countryside bringing gifts to good children, the chained demon stalks behind him, waiting to be unleashed on naughty children. Punishments handed out by Krampus include, but are not limited to, leaving coal instead of gifts, handing out beatings with a birch switch, marking sleeping children’s faces with ash to attract nightmares, and worst of all, carrying the worst of the children off to hell! Intense, huh?

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It’s long been tradition in Alpine villages for young men to dress in elaborate Krampus costumes and parade down the street, and afterwards lurk in alleys and dark places waiting to frighten passing children. It’s like someone took the best aspects of Christmas and combined them with Halloween. Those Europeans have the best ideas!

Now the tradition is becoming more and more popular in the United States. Not only is Krampus now a major motion picture, and has appeared in various television shows and graphic novels. But before all that, Bloomington, Indiana has been bringing this unique tradition to life each December for the past four years.

Krampus sidewalk chalk drawing

This year Cult Of Weird was on hand to cover the festivities. Krampus Night began just before twilight with a Bazaar situated in a small parking lot. Patrons could purchase tee shirts, bundles of switches, and food and drink. Various family activities were available to keep children entertained–God forbid a sudden bout of boredom leads children to mischief just as a pack of Krampuses are readying to march through town! The kids could occupy themselves with sack races, Krampus balloon headdresses, making homemade Krampus masks, or drawing images of the beast in sidewalk chalk. But most important of all, this is where you get your naughty or nice stickers. Nice patrons get candy. Naughty ones run the risk of meeting Krampus up close.

An hour later, just as night fell, ominous horn and drum music could be heard in the distance and troop of angels appeared from around the corner–lovely women in white, gyrating with light-up neon hula hoops, while a very stoic, Old World Saint Nicholas oversaw the performance. The women would then approach onlookers and hand out treats to children labeled nice. As bright and spectacular as this scene was, a dark cloud hung over the festivities. Dark haired men with ashen faces followed several feet behind with torches blazing high in the air, and behind them the menacing roars of dark beasts could be heard. Soon a dozen or more fierce, fur covered goat men with, enormous, twisted, wild horns appeared carrying long staffs made of bundles of switches. The creatures howled and growled and lunged at the crowd in search of the naughty. The crowd howled and growled back, and older siblings yelled out to the Krampuses, ratting out younger siblings for being bad. Myself, naughty by my own admission, was spanked across the shins with a huge staff of switches, and one particularly large Krampus (who I later learned was named Kindergobbler) grabbed me by the shoulders and shook me sharply as punishment.

Bloomington Krampus Night parade

One Krampus stopped in front me with a bright torch, sipped some foul smelling liquid, and spat fire high into the dark Bloomington sky. The crowd cheered in approval as more Krampuses dashed at the onlookers. Finally a pickup truck emerged from around the corner, with a particularly vile looking Krampus in back. Sitting around him were several small children, their faces covered in ash. As other little children moved into the street for a closer look at the Krampuses, a small blonde girl shouted from the truck “run you idiots! They’ll take you away! Run for your lives!”

As the parade moved through town the crowd followed, until all the onlookers arrived back at the Bazaar for a chance to have their pictures taken with St. Nick, the Angels, and the demonic Krampuses. A host of the beasts were locked inside a pen made of police caution tape, and for an additional donation, you could walk through the menagerie, as they shook and swatted you with switches. At the end of the night St. Nicholas entered the pen, and all the Krampuses dropped down on one knee to honor the man who’d tamed and mastered them. Nicholas raised his staff, and a horn blared. He then loaded all of the beasts into the back of trucks and they drove off to Downtown Bloomington, screeching and bellowing, where they’d spend the remainder of the night lurking outside of pubs and restaurants, waiting to punish the naughty.

The entire event seemed extremely surreal, as the Krampus tradition is far darker than anything we have in the States. But despite the dreadful notion that the devil is waiting to drag you away, the kids in the audience loved it all, as it was all so over the top it seemed more theater than threat, though the same underlying message we all hear at Christmas was there–“you better be good, for goodness sake!”

Bloomington Krampus Night

J. Nathan Couch is the author of Goatman: Flesh or Folklore?
Find more at www.jnathancouch.com