Monthly Archives: December 2016

Get your Jane on

How many people would expect they’d still be relevant 200 years after they die?

December 16, 2016 marked Jane Austen’s 241st birthday and she’s still the life of the party. Janeites celebrate her birthday with festivities including cake, music, readings, games and historical costumes.

My local JASNA chapter in London throws a party every year which also serves as the group’s annual Christmas event.

It’s a great way to celebrate Jane, learn more about her classic novels and meet new people.

Our local JASNA group has several gatherings a year, many of which include speakers or activities specific to Jane, her novels or the times in which she lived. Of course there’s always tea in china cups and great conversation.

There’s no shortage of ways to enjoy Jane Austen’s work. Aside from her other fiction there’s her six original novels:

  • Sense and Sensibility (1811)
  • Pride and Prejudice (1813)
  • Mansfield Park (1814)
  • Emma (1815)
  • Northanger Abbey (1818, posthumous)
  • Persuasion (1818, posthumous)

If you’re craving more Austen reading material there’s some excellent fan fiction including two that I read recently: The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen and Darcy’s Voyage. There’s also the sci-fi style Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters which is a fun read.

You can also watch film adaptations which run from classic to contemporary styles, autobiographical and  alternate fiction versions. Here are just a few of the many movies out there:

  • Emma (1996) (1996 TV movie) (2009)death-comes-to-pemberley-14319
  • Persuasion (1995)
  • Sense and Sensibility (1995)
  • Pride and Prejudice (1995)
  • Mansfield Park (1999)
  • Northanger Abbey (1996)
  • Becoming Jane (2007)
  • Miss Austen Regrets (2007)
  • Lost in Austen (2009 TV mini-series)
  • Austenland (2013)
  • Death comes to Pemberly (2013 TV mini-series)
  • Pride Predjudice and Zombies (2016)

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Krampus is watching. Be good!

While Halloween is by far my favourite holiday, I also celebrate Christmastime with at least a few garlands and decorations at home, as well as the giving of gifts to close family and friends. Being of  part German descent, I’m fascinated by the traditions and lore surrounding Krampus and Krampusnacht at the beginning of December. The images associated with this character are incredibly creepy and it’s surprising that many of these were used as postcards.

1acfe8cd0043f2eefa90f45d9a4d20f2Krampus

Krampus is a scary looking horned figure described as “half-goat, half-demon”, who punishes children during the Christmas season. Krampus goes after children who have misbehaved throughout the year, unlike Saint Nicholas  who rewards good children with gifts and sweets.

Although he appears in many variations, most share some common physical characteristics. He is hairy, usually brown or black, and has the cloven hooves and horns of a goat. His long, pointed tongue sticks out and he bares fangs.

Krampus carries chains and thrashes them for dramatic effect. They are sometimes accompanied with bells of various sizes. He also brings ruten, bundles of birch branches which he occasionally swats children.  The birch branches are replaced with a whip in some representations.

Sometimes Krampus appears with a sack or a basket strapped to his back; this is to cart off bad children for the awful fate of drowning, eating, or transport to Hell (for the really terrible ones). Some of the older versions make mention of naughty children being put in the bag and being taken.

In traditional parades and in such events as the Krampuslauf (English: Krampus run), young men dressed as Krampus participate; such events occur annually in most Alpine towns. Krampus is also featured on holiday greeting cards called Krampuskarten.

Krampusnacht

On the night of Dec. 5, Krampus Night or Krampusnacht is celebrated, when the wicked hairy devil traditionally appears on the streets. The lore is that he visits homes and businesses, sometimes accompanying St. Nicholas and sometimes on his own. Krampus brings naughty children coal and the ruten bundles to punish them.

Krampuslauf for Krampus

Forget Santa’s favourite snack of milk and cookies, Krampus likes the hard stuff (he’s a tough guy you know!) It’s customary to offer Krampus schnapps, a strong distilled fruit brandy.

Krampuskarten – unique greeting cards

Here are more examples of Krampuskarten, greeting cards of Krampus, sent in advance of Christmas cards, both as a warning and a bit of fun before the holiday season. Perhaps one might send these shortly after Halloween, they’re scary enough!

Until the next blog, be good!

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