The Race to Become Most Unpleasant European Nation in which to Celebrate Christmas 2006
In response to Germany equating Santa Claus with Hitler, England outlawing decorations in small towns and causing panic when it comes to mince pies, and Sweden insisting on erecting a Giant Christmas Goat despite a massed feeling of antagonism towards it that has remained unwilted for 40 years - Austria has decided to create cultural panic on both sides of the argument surrounding Krampus, Santa's apparently evil sidekick - exactly, who knew?
Firstly, kudos to Austria for bringing international attention to the evil aspects of Santa as personified through a screaming goat-like demon who is his friend. While Germany pulled the whole Santa as Nazi thing it really only emphasised their own cultural hysteria. Santa himself seems pretty much impervious to inherent evil so the other option is to smeer the reputations of his friends - excellent work in making sure everyone in Austria thinks about that.
Secondly, it seems unlikely that children were actually frightened by Krampus because the folk lore surrounding him suggests that he can't hurt them. If hysterical parents start shrieking about it and insisting on rules like that the actor playing Krampus must be obvious to onlookers thus ruining everything for everyone, Austria wins on both sides of the situation:
Firstly, if kids really are frightened and everyone's talking about it then the notion of real destroyed innocence and childhood horror at Christmas is on everyone's mind thus creating discomfort which, if Austria wants to be the most unpleasant place in Europe to celebrate Christmas, is essential.
Secondly, if kids aren't frightened by Krampus at all and hysterical parents are shrieking for rules and regulations to be applied to him then a part of the Christmas tradition of Austria is destroyed. Destroying Christmas tradition through shrill hysteria and mindless bureaucracy is also a strong and viable way to create an overall feeling of discomfort this Christmas as well.
So, verdict on the whole Krampus panic thing? Win/Win for Austria.
Which nation will win the apparently coveted title of "Most Unpleasant European Nation in which to Celebrate Christmas 2006"?
With England, Germany, Sweden and now Austria firmly involved in the race, it seems the competition is more compelling than ever before.