I was raised by my European family. They were an amalgamation of 2nd and 3rd generation German and Polish Americans. I grew up practicing some (very Americanized) German traditions. We had Advent calendars, read traditional stories, and left our shoes out for small presents on St. Nicholas Day.
If there is one thing that I am certain of, it is that Germans have some really fucked up fairytales that will scare the crap out of kids. For example, Der Erlkoenig. I had to recite this one in German class. In this poem, a boy hears an evil elf king while being taken to the doctor in the woods. His father can’t hear it and probably doesn’t believe him. The boy dies either by sickness or is killed by the evil elf king.
Another concept is the Krampus:
These dapper fellows accompany St. Nicholas on his way to homes and put naughty children into a sack. Then the child is taken back to their lair to be eaten.
OH HELL YES. I want to go and see this in person. 😀 Here is a video of the yearly Krampuslauf (Krampus Walk) in Austria. Traditionally, men dress up as the Krampus in Austria, southern Bavaria, and South Tyrol during the first week of December – usually on the eve of St. Nicholas Day (December 5th). Their job is to scare the crap out of the children with bells and rusty chains.
I can’t help but remember how scared the young boys in front of me were at the extremely wussy Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party parade. One (about 7 years old) boy screamed, cried, and jumped on me when some family-friendly haunted mansion floats went by while doing a clown dance and singing a HAPPEH DAPPY HAPPEH HALLOWEEN SONG. (I swear, they are making kids more and more sensitive these days! My god.)
I believe that we Americans today have raised a generation of fragile kids – especially when it is compared to children in other countries today.
Here is footage of last year’s Krampuslauf Graz:
THIS IS AWESOME YOU GUYS. I just figured out that I want to visit Europe during December! 😀