MONROE — Be careful this December. Santa’s not the only one watching.
Krampus, Santa’s evil twin, is watching too.
What’s up with that?
Krampus is the horned, hairy demonic beast of European folklore who punishes naughty children at Christmastime. Instead of a bundle of toys, he has birch sticks to swat the misbehaving rascals he hauls down to the underworld.
Dec. 5 is Krampus Night, or Krampusnacht as they say in Europe, where the creepster is a fixture on greeting cards, candy tins and at yuletide events. It’s an excuse for grown men to dress up as Krampus, drink a bunch of alcohol, and run through the streets frightening children.
Around here, sightings are rare.
Krampus was in the fur in November at Oddmall: Emporium of the Weird, a bazaar of the bizarre held twice a year at the Evergreen State Fairgrounds in Monroe.
Santa was there, too, doing his thing and smiling 20 feet away in a red sleigh.
It was good vs. evil … with a photographer in the middle, camera at the ready to capture those special holiday moments to cherish for years to come.
Santa had competition for attention at Oddmall. He was a jolly sport as Krampus stole half the show.
“I’m classic. There is no ill will,” Santa said.
Along with Ho-Ho-Ho, he said, “If you can’t be good, be good at it.”
After all, this was Oddmall, where visitors were greeted by a woman juggling toilet plungers. Booths had fantasy books, 3D printed figurines, doll body part art, scary clown lamps, eyeball jewelry, pink knives for femme fatales and crocheted lingerie.
Krampus might not be warm and cuddly, but he’s a fun dude to be around. Part of his charm is cuffing people with chains.
The man in the Krampus suit at Oddmall was professional special effects artist Shawn Morse, who has worked in film and on stage. In October he’s in charge of the fright for Stalker Farms Haunted Attractions at Stocker Farms in Snohomish and he teaches zombie makeup classes at the library.
He takes his role as Krampus just as seriously.
“I ask them if they have been naughty or nice,” Morse said. “They will get candy or they will get chained up.”
Usually, they get both. “We always have a little bit of naughty and a little bit of nice,” he said, with a gleam in his bloodshot eyes.
As a kid, would he have been scared of himself?
“Most definitely,” Morse said, “and I would have loved it.”
Oliver Moe, 4, approached Krampus with caution, gradually stepping close enough for a high-five.
“He doesn’t do well with Santa,” said the boy’s mom, Chantelle. “He did a lot better with Krampus.”
Those 13 and older can celebrate Krampusnacht at Nile Nightmares Haunted House at Nile Shrine Center in Mountlake Terrace on Dec. 6, 7, 13 and 14. There will be multiple Krampuses, evil elves, Santa and other costumed characters for photo opps. The event includes a fire-breather, escape room, food trucks, beer garden, vendors and artists.
Or you can stay home and watch the 2013 “Minstrel Krampus” episode of the Fox cartoon “American Dad” or the 2015 PG-13 scary movie “Krampus.”
As for Oddmall: Emporium of the Weird, it was started in the Pacific Northwest in 2013 by Washington resident David Hopp. It is modeled after the Oddmall started in Ohio in 2009 by Hopp’s brother Andy, a fantasy author, illustrator and game designer who felt really out of place setting up craft shows. He started Oddmall in Ohio for those of his ilk, and even has an Assembly of Odd inside a church.
The next Oddmall is May 30 and 31 at the Monroe fairgrounds. Krampus will return for the November 2020 event.