Printed from WriteWords -


by  belka37

Posted: Sunday, December 6, 2009
Word Count: 969
Summary: "Albert and the Krampus" is a story about the celebration of St Nicholas Day in Austria on December 5 or 6 depending in what part of the world you live. The story was created for an oral storytelling - and I've just quickly tried to translate it into a written form. I'll be interested to hear from you how well it works - and whether you think there's enough background for it work in a country unfamiliar with the Austrian tradition..

In some parts of Austria, December 5, Saint Nicholas Eve, is also known as Krampusí Day. The Krampus is a mischievous sprite who walks in the shadow of Saint Nicholas, bearing a coal sack on his back as he lies in wait hoping to carry off any naughty children he finds. But whenever the Krampus attempts to steal a naughty child, the good Saint Nicholas drives him away.
* * * * *
One Saint Nicholas Eve in Vienna, Austria a long time ago Albert, together with his four sisters, his father and mother and old Auntie Betty; friends and neighbours gathered as the the first Advent Candle was lit - and waited excitedly ó expectantly for the arrival of Saint Nicholas.

Albert pushed his sisters and the other children back and stood at the window. He wanted to be the first to see St Nicholas coming down their street.

Suddenly, he let out a cry: "He's coming! He's coming! He's here! Quickly! Open the door!"

Mama opened the door to welcome the guest. But it was not just one guest. There were two! Albert's eyes widened in horror.

"Oh, no!"

Behind Saint Nicholas followed a strange wee man dressed in a rough brown fur coat. He had a enormous tail, a long red tongue and was carrying a rattling chain, birch branches and on his back was a big black coal sack.

Albert recognised him at once. The Krampus!

There was only one thing for Albert to do. Hide!

Albert scuttled to a hiding place behind the big old padded chair Papa always sat in the read the paper when he came home from work. From here Albert could see everything that was going on but hoped that no-one could see him.

Saint Nicholas opened his large book. In it was a list of all the good and bad things done by children all around the world.

As St Nicholas read silently from the book, the Krampus looked about, licked his lips and practised hitting strokes with his birch. Every now and then he rattled his chains, grinned and peered behind him into the large sack he carried on his back.

Saint Nicholas raised his eyes from the book and greeted Albert's oldest sister.
"Aha! Are you Annie?"
Annie nodded.
"Come here, child."

Annie came.
Saint Nicholas gave her a warm smile.
"I see you have been very helpful and kind. Can you say a poem for me?"

Annieís eyes fixed on Saint Nicholas as she recited a poem, remembering every word just as it was meant to be.

Saint Nicholas nodded with pleasure and handed Annie her Saint Nicholas' bag. In it was an apple; some peanuts and walnuts; dried figs, plums and apricots.

Albert felt hungry at the sight of it. He was about to venture from his hiding place when he heard again the jangle of the Krampus's chain. He could hear the Krampus rubbing his hands together and muttering to himself, "The next one will be mine! The next one will be mine!"

Albert stayed where he was and tried not to breathe.

It was Hana's turn next. She too, had been ever so good. The same was true for Emilie and Maria - and the others.

The Krampus jaggled his chains and his muttering became ever more persistent.

Auntie Betty looked around. "Where's Albert?"

Mama searched the room with her eyes until she spotted him behind the chair.
"Come on, Albert. It's your turn, now."

Saint Nicholas turned his face toward Albert's hiding place.
"Come on, Albert. Don't be afraid. Now let me look in my book for your name."

Albert struggled to his feet and step by shuffling step moved out onto the room for all to see.

The Krampus grinned as he rubbed his hands together and started to jump up and down in anticipation.

Saint Nicholas studied his book. He frowned a little and had another look, before turning to Albert. "What's this? You were very naughty this year." The gentle old man shook his head sadly. "Albert, what's to be done? You ... bad in the school ... won't listen to your parents."

Looking very pleased with himself, the Krampus jumped with glee. Albert covered his ears with his hands to block out the sound of the little manís rattling chain. "This one's mine! This one's mine," the Krampus cried - and he began to chase Albert around the room.

He caught up with Albert and scooped the boy into his large coal sack. And though Albert struggled and kicked there was no help for it. The Krampus was too strong for him.

Albert's pleading eyes met the eyes of Saint Nicholas. "Oh, please Saint Nicholas, please help me. I will be a good boy again."
Saint Nicholas turned to the Krampus and spoke to him sternly.
"Let the boy free. Leave him alone. He's mine."

Auntie Betty helped Albert from the Krampusís sack and stood him on his feet.

"Now go to Saint Nicholas and say 'thankyou' for saving you from the Krampus."

Albert looked down at his shoes and walked very slowly toward Saint Nicholas.

Saint Nicholas stepped toward the nervous boy and took him by the hand. "Come, Albert," he said. "I can see the kind of boy you can be - and for that I have a very special bag. I am sure you will go well next year in school and in listening to your parents ... I look forward to seeing you again next Saint Nicholas Eve and hearing all about it."
And he passed Albert's Saint Nicholas' bag to him.

Albert had never tasted fruit and nuts so sweet. But sweetest of all was the sight of that old Krampus skulking out of the house and away into the night.