December 5, 2018 by syrbal-labrys
Today begins the holiday baking on December 5th. Back in our Catholic days, my children put out shoes for St. Nicholas to fill, leaving a carrot for his horse/donkey in return. We never did really do the Santa thing, though goodness knows if I had known he could be Kurt Russell ? I might have given that a real go! But because my early childhood was shaped by the customs of Bavarian German Christmas, as were the childhoods of my own children, I tended towards St. Nick – who was sometimes accompanied by a furry pelted dark sack carrying aide who was certainly no pixie! This was “Krampus” — in Bavaria tonight young men in elaborate satyr-like costumes they’ve spent time and money upon will romp through the streets, terrifying children into really being good and generally acting as if the Great God Pan just may not “be dead”!
This night is also celebrated as a “hunt night” when the Wild Hunt rides and miscreants better keep themselves hidden indoors. In fact, in some circles, it is wiser for ALL to be within doors by true nightfall. Since my pagan coming out in about 1994 – after about eight years of silent secret practice as a Neo-pagan/heretic – this was the tradition we embraced. Meat and wine or mead was put outdoors at dark – meat for the Huntsmen’s dogs, and bracing drink for himself!
Perhaps it was that bit of the tradition that reminded me of Jewish Passover – although that is a springtime thing, not a midwinter’s night event. It always feels to me, as I carry these offerings to the altar beside the labyrinth, that I am subtly acknowledging that any one of us could be carried off at any time and offering a wordless plea that it not be me or mine. I’m not really wild about living so much as not done with endless responsibilities to be attended to — so yes, meat and mead for the Hunt tonight.
And then? Another not so subtle hint – a cookie in fat man shape with yellow hair and a red necktie. I mean…if they WANT to hunt something? Let it be THAT guy!