Christmas! The word gives us all a happy feeling.
The weather, the atmosphere, the people around you, everyone looks so happy. The days are beautiful and the nights are gorgeous. Decorated houses, shops, the smell of freshly baked cakes & muffins, People dressed as Santa’s or elves everywhere. Every office has the game of Secret Santa. In fact, boring corporate offices become fun at Christmas.
Everyone has their idea of fun during this holiday season. Some people visit relatives, some friends and some prefer to stay with family. I and my boyfriend love traveling. But due to our busy lifestyle, we do not get time to do so. As we are Hindu and we do not celebrate Christmas, but still we get the holidays due to working in Multi-National Company, so, we enjoy traveling around the world every year during Christmas Eve to New Year. This travel is kind of our ritual. We leave by 22nd Dec of every year and we come back home by 29th Dec, to celebrate New Year’s Eve with family.
We have been to different parts of the world. We love the way the entire world decorates themselves during this holiday season. Colors, lights, snow, Jingling Bells, Missletoe, happy and excited kids, decorated houses and my favorite Christmas Dinner. I just love the smell in the air. It’s amazing.
last year we decided to go to Croatia, it is a country at the crossroads of Central and Southeast Europe. It is a beautiful country. If you have a bucket for places to travel, then I will strongly recommend Croatia. This country is beautiful throughout the year but the most beautiful time to visit is during winter. Croatia has a typically Mediterranean climate known for its hot and sunny weather during summer and relatively mild weather in winter. Even during the coldest month (January), temperatures never really get below about 5°C.
We boarded our flight from Bangalore, India at 2:00 on the morning of 22nd Dec. It was a 17 hours journey. We reached Zagreb, Croatia by 7:00 in the evening. We reached our destination hotel and spent the night there. I was excited about visiting this place. I had heard a lot of stories. True stories, biblical, mythical, beautiful stories, a lot of stories. That’s a part of my research before visiting any new place. I search the stories and folklore around the area.
From the next morning, we started visiting places. On the 24th Dec, we visited a nearby town. This town has a beautiful river, exciting freshwater aquarium, and gorgeous woods. This is a happy town. It feels great to be here. Beautiful people with beautiful hearts. We found a beautiful cabin in the woods and decided to spend the night there and then head back to Zagreb next morning. Our tour guide was very generous. He invited us for lunch that day. His wife could speak English as well, hence, it was easy to communicate. We had an amazing lunch with them and learned some facts and myths about this town. I was happy to be in this town.
We roamed to the town during the day and by evening we headed towards the cabin in the woods. We had a plan of having some drinks, lighting a fire and listening to music while gazing at the sky. This cabin is a hunting cabin. It is not very far from the highway. After reaching there we realized that we forgot to buy beers. My boyfriend decides to head back to the town to grab some beer cans. I was alone in the cabin. It’s calm and peaceful. I turned on the lights in the cabin so that he can find his way to the cabin easily. It is already dark outside. He returned to the cabin after 45 minutes, with wine bottles, baked turkey and mashed potato. Yum! I loved this town and this evening. After spending a good amount of time eating near the bonfire and gazing at the stars, we headed to bed.
It was a little past midnight, I woke up to use the facilities. I did my job and about to return to our room. I heard some noise outside the cabin, it sounded like a muffled scream of a kid followed by heavy footsteps. The footsteps were coming closer to the cabin however, the scream stopped and there is a sound dragging something. I was listening to those footsteps, peeking out of the window and trying to understand what it is. By then, I heard a low growl, which sent chill down my spine. I returned to my bed. My boyfriend was fast asleep. I could still hear those footsteps and the dragging sound.
I was scared. I thought to wake my boyfriend up. But then I decided to check the source of those footsteps. I tried looking out of the window again. It was completely dark outside. I could not see a thing. It took some time for my eyes to adjust in the darkness. Then I saw a tall, dark figure, which looked like wearing a cloth sack around his waist and chains around his neck, ankles, and wrists. The figure had a long face but I could not see any feature of this thing initially. Then I noticed that it does not have legs, instead, it has hooves. It had horns and its faces looked like a goat.
I could not believe on my eyes, I rubbed them to ensure what I am looking at. It’s a goat-human like a creature. It was dragging something behind it, which looked like a human. That creature was coming towards our cabin. I was scared to death and I was frozen. I could not move my single finger. As the creature came nearer I could see its feature, It had a horrible face and long long tongue like a snake but longer. It came near my window and stopped and looked at the slightly lite bonfire and then tried smelling something out of air. It peeked through our window. Those horrible red eyes were in front of me, I could hear it’s growl. I could not move. But the human he was dragging moved. The creature kicked him on his face. It’s a boy, a skinny teenager, who is in his Pajamas. Which means the creature has dragged the boy out of his bed.
I wanted to save the boy. I wanted to scream and wake my boyfriend up, but I could not. The creature was passing through our cabin, dragging the boy, who is either unconscious or dead by now. I kept looking at it until I could not see anything more. The foul smell of the creature is still in the sir. I could smell it through the locked window. I was scared that it will come back for us, as it already has peeked through the window and looked at the bonfire. It knows that we are here. We should leave the cabin and should go to the police and inform. But instead, I sat near the window looking at the direction the creature dragged the boy. The next morning, I found myself in the bed under the blanket. My boyfriend was awake and making coffee for us. I remembered the last night. I went out to check but could not find anything. I thought it was a bad dream and try to forget. We get ready and then left to meet our guide.
The town seemed sad today, instead of happy. It’s Christmas day, happy day, why are they sad? We knocked at our guide’s door. He peeked through the window before answering the door. He seemed sad too. The charming and beautiful smile was gone from his face. He opened the door with a cross in his hand. He sprinkled holy water on us before inviting us in. During breakfast, I asked why are they worried and sad? Do they need any help? He was hesitant to talk. His wife looked scared. But she told us that last night Krampus visited their town. He has taken a boy with him. This incident did not take place in a few decades. But last night, a boy went missing and they found hooves marks around the house.
Upon asking who or what Krampus is, they were scared to talk about it. After reciting a prayer, she said that Krampus is a bad Santa. He is a companion of Santa Claus. He visits only during the night of Christmas to punish the kids and youth who have been bad. Rumor says the boy, who is missing, was addicted to drugs. His parents tried to put him through rehab, but he did not listen to them. He has troubled them a lot and put this town through a few miserable situations by inviting his drug dealers and addicted buddies from different towns. Krampus doesn’t like his town to be dirty, so he took him. I asked, how does Krampus look, she explained that it is half-goat, half-demon. It has horns and it carries chain around his neck and wrists to hold and drag the kids.
I got to shiver in my spine. My mouth was dry, and I was unable to speak. The thing which I saw last night was not a nightmare. I saw Krampus taking the boy away from humanity. I heard the scream of that boy. I looked at Krampus, he looked at me. I don’t know what the kid’s parents are going through now. Should I have tried saving the kid? Should I tell them that I have seen Krampus dragging the boy away in the woods? I was furious at myself for being a spineless coward but at the same time, I was scared for my life now. I wanted to leave this town as soon as possible. After some time, I gather the courage to ask my boyfriend if we can leave the town. He was shocked to look at my condition, as I have always been fearless and brave. He was shocked by the fact that how a mythical story has affected me.
Once we returned to Zagreb to our hotel room, I was a little relieved but still scared. I wanted to go back home immediately. But our flights were booked for the 28th evening. I did not tell anything to my boyfriend and carried on with our normal plans and schedule. I did not want to spoil his mood. We attended Christmas mass that evening. Had a lovely dinner. But I could not sleep. The sight of Krampus was in front of my eyes. The next morning, I tried searching about Krampus and I found some of the details on google. The history of the Krampus figure has been theorized as stretching back to pre-Christian Alpine traditions. In a brief article discussing the figure, published in 1958, Maurice Bruce wrote:
There seems to be 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 – apart from its phallic significance – 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.
We spent 26th and 27th Dec visiting nearby towns of Zagreb and I spent the sleepless nights. We boarded our flight on from Zagreb on the evening of 28th Dec and landed in Bangalore, India on the next afternoon. I was relieved and sad for the boy. I don’t know what has happened with the boy. Where did Krampus take him? I will never forget this Christmas. I don’t want anyone to be punished like this or by Krampus. I check the news for that town every year to confirm if there have been any other missing kids during Christmas eve or not? I pray for that town every Christmas eve that there should not be any visit from Krampus.
But I still get the flashes and nightmare of that night, of Krampus
Disclaimer: This story is a complete fiction based on a mythical creature. Any similarity of a situation with the story is purely coincidence.