As cousin Ingrid reminded me, tomorrow is Saint Nicholas Day. I'm not Catholic (although my friend Deb calls Lutherans "Catholic Lites," ha ha! Okay, maybe that's a joke only Lutherans get. Haha! Okay, I'm done now. Sorry. :)) ANYway. Since I'm not Catholic the saints' days usually don't pop up on my radar. But a couple of years ago we happened to be in Salzburg, Austria on this weekend and we were introduced to a rather shocking tradition!
It seems that in Austria and Bavaria they have Krampus. On December 6 (St. Nicholas Day), if you've been a good child then St. Nicholas will bring you treats, but if you've been bad then Krampus will come and beat you. I'm not kidding. This is what they tell their children!
Jason and I discovered this as we wandered through the stalls of the Christmas Market and I asked several nice Austrians why they were selling candy and cookies decorated with faces that looked like a devil. I'm still not kidding.
To reinforce this lovely little tale, on the evening of December 5th (or the preceding weekend, it seems, since it happened on December 2nd in 2006), people dress up as Krampus and run through the streets carrying clubs and chains and try to scare the ever-living
I was--as I'm sure you can imagine!--incredibly intrigued, and also slightly frightened. I wanted to witness this cultural spectacle, but I also wasn't crazy about the idea of costumed, weapons-wielding strangers trying to frighten me. Just the idea was enough, if you're like me and have an active imagination
And suddenly, there they were! We heard the bells clanging and the chains dragging and everything echoing off the cobblestones and then BAM, there's the freakshow parade! It all happened so quickly but out of the corner of my eye I saw one duck into a bar. So I ran over and he was already on the way back out--I snapped a photo just in time!
Okay, truly, isn't this frightening? It's hard to tell in the photo but he's in the mid 6-foot range. Tall. And in this getup? With real animal hair & fur? The only way to tell he's human is the hands! He looks a lot less scary surrounded by sunny yellow walls, but imagine coming upon this in the dark outside? It was crazy! Can you imagine being an Austrian child learning about Krampus? It turns out that Krampus has many names in many different cultures, all mentioned here. I would much rather grow up in Brad and Ingrid's house, where St. Nicholas delivers candy and tangerines into your shoes! :)
When Ingrid reminded me of St. Nicholas Day I remembered this photo and I also remembered having written about it before. So I went on a hunt, thinking I could pull the old copy-and-paste trick (which didn't work this time, by the way), and my first stop was MySpace, where I did a little "practice" blog before I started this one (although when I was writing in MySpace I had no inclination of a "real" blog, it was just a way to keep in touch with a ton of my friends & family at once). As I remembered, I'd blogged just a little bit every now and then. But as it actually turns out, I blogged there all the freakin' time. There were posts on there I'd completely forgotten about ever having written! It is freaky, actually. I documented a lot of the transition from Italy back to the States, military to civilian. And I'm totally glad I did, but it was pretty surreal reading it all! So I might post a couple of those in the coming weeks just for fun!
My vacuum cleaner is dying, and it's making me nuts. It's over ten years old and it spent 3.5 years in an Italian attic, so it's not a huge surprise; but having a half-sucking vacuum really, well, you know, sucks. I joked with Jason about asking for one for Christmas but of course that is just someplace you don't go, right? Besides being a lame gift, it's just too cliché. But if your husband has ever given you a vacuum cleaner for Christmas, or any lame gift at any time, then you should go check out this video here. Pretty funny stuff! Thanks to Kim for the link. :)
I've been working to fulfill a ton of custom orders, which is awesome! But it's hard to upload stuff to etsy (despite my many promises to do so) when I'm working so hard on fulfilling these orders! I got a lot done and had a lot of fun today stamping with my new shipment of sterling silver shapes, but poor Jason is getting sick and came home early from work and fell into bed, so my hammering was at a standstill. I managed to take halfway decent photos of two new designs, which I'll upload to etsy tomorrow.
This ring is 1" diameter, hand-stamped with the word "Breathe" and finished in brushed-matte. The dangle is a hand-made (not by me) torchwork borosilicate bead that is gorgeous. The predominate color is a relaxing green but there are also blues and yellows (borosilicate is what Pyrex is made out of; it is very hard to work with because it requires such high temperatures, but it's much stronger than normal glass). I used a very nice thick sterling silver chain and clasp and will wear this necklace throughout December (and 2009!) to remind myself of what is important and what is not. Just breathe. I ordered this shape as a sample and now that I've fallen in love with it, naturally it's backordered. I must have one and that leaves only one left for purchase (until after Christmas!). I can stamp it exactly like this one, or with whatever word you want. The price is $52, $3 for shipping. First-come, first served; claim it and I'll send you a payment request! Tomorrow it will be listed on etsy for the rest of the world. :)
I also have a few of these gorgeous butterflies! I can stamp whatever words you'd like and use whichever colors of Swarovski crystals and/or freshwater pearls you like, each hand-wire-wrapped onto the chain.
I have one stamped Dream, one stamped Fly, and three blank ones waiting. The butterfly is just less than 1" wide and is finished with oxidized (black) letters and a bright silver finish. I can also finish it with a hammered silver texture or a matte silver texture for no extra charge. It's on an 18" sterling silver necklace; $32 each plus $3 shipping.
I can't wait to photograph my other designs and upload everything tomorrow!