'TWAS - The Roleplaying Game Before Christmas is on Kickstarter

Thursday, 5 December 2019

The Krampus Kalendar: E is for ELVES

Santa’s Elves invade the UK each Christmas in increasing numbers, but where does the tradition of the Christmas elf come from?


Elves appear in Germanic, British and Scandinavian folklore, and are often referred as light elves or dark elves. They were often described as tiny, dwarf-like creatures, either male or female, they are said to be immortal, and possess magical powers.

In pagan times, Elves were believed to guard homes against evil. If you were good, the elves would be good to you, but if you were bad, they would play tricks on you. For example, they were believed to give people nightmares by sitting on their heads while they were asleep.

To keep the elves well fed, happy and out of mischief, people left a bowl of porridge on the doorstep at night. The use of the name “elf” in old English reflects the characters’ mischievous nature, and is from the old English ælf. The word was combined to create the words ælfadl “nightmare” and ælfsogoða “hiccup”, afflictions apparently thought to be caused by elves.

Already associated with storytelling and magic, elves began to be associated with Christmas in the mid 1800s, when they became Santa’s helpers. Christmas celebrations were gathering popularity and Scandinavian writers penned the elves’ role as we know it today - good-hearted, fairy-like helpers of Santa Claus that are sometimes mischievous.

Today’s children’s Christmas stories have drawn inspiration from the original folk tales to fashion what we think of as modern Christmas elves. Christmas elves are typically described as diminutive creatures, clad in red and green, with pointy ears and pointy hats. They help Santa bring Christmas to life. They design and make toys and gifts for children, look after the reindeer and keep the sleigh in good condition. They keep Santa’s naughty and nice list in order, and guard the secret location of Santa’s base of operations.

Folklore tells that elves make sudden appearances to families in the run up to Christmas. They keep an eye on children, check who’s naughty and who’s nice and report their findings back to Santa. If you don’t want to wake up on Christmas morning to find your stockings filled with lumps of coal or bundles of twigs – you’d better be good for goodness sake!


'TWAS - The Krampus Night Before Christmas, which is full of elves - both good and bad - makes the perfect stocking filler, as will 'TWAS - The Roleplaying Game Before Christmas, which is currently funding on Kickstarter.

   

To find out more about the festive season and its many traditions, order your copy of the Chrismologist's Christmas Explained: Robins, Kings and Brussel Sprouts today!

The book is also available in the United States as Christmas Miscellany: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Christmas.

      

Gruss vom Krampus!

Today is 5th December, which means that this evening is Krampusnacht, the night when the Christmas Devil stalks the streets of Austrian and German mountain settlements, searching for naughty children to whip with his birch switch and carry away to hell in his wicker basket.

Krampusnacht feels more like Halloween than Christmas. To mark this occasion in the winter calendar, men dressed as Krampus drink alcohol, run through the streets, and frighten children. Often, they chase delinquent children around and actually hit them with sticks!

The Krampus costume itself traditionally consists of a hand-carved wooden mask and a suit made from sheep or goat skin. Cowbells are worn around the wearer’s hips.

Of course, Krampus is the villain of 'TWAS - The Krampus Night Before Christmas (which is accepting reviews on Amazon now), but he is also the Big Bad of 'TWAS - The Roleplaying Game Before Christmas, which needs some love on Kickstarter right now.

Don't forget to pledge your support before midnight, to benefit from the Early Bird rewards on offer.


And it's not too late to send some Krampus Kards this Christmas. If you need some more, they can be purchased from the ACE Gamebooks Etsy shop here.


Wednesday, 4 December 2019

The Krampus Kalendar: D is for DECORATIONS

People have always festooned their homes with some manner of decorations, whether boughs of winter greenery or with enough electric lights to double their energy bills for the year. But where did it all start?

Our Norse ancestors used evergreens – mainly holly, ivy, mistletoe and the branches of fir trees – to decorate their homes during the winter months, to remind people that life would return to the world again. In time, other man-made decorations, such as bows of red ribbon and lit candles would be added to enhance what nature had already provided.

Following the example set by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert in the 1840s, the trend of having a Christmas tree in the home grew during the nineteenth century, and so the demand increased to have things to put on it.

Other than the lit candles, of one form or another, at first many Christmas tree decorations were of an edible nature. There were sweets, fruit and even wafers; then came small presents and paper ornaments.

By the 1880s glass ornaments were all the rage, with baubles replacing the once traditional apples hung on the old-fashioned Paradise tree (a precursor to the modern Christmas tree) – a reminder of the forbidden fruit tasted by Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. And now we have strings of fairy lights, tinsel by the metre and all manner of decorations with which to adorn our homes.


'TWAS - The Krampus Night Before Christmas makes the perfect stocking filler, as will 'TWAS - The Roleplaying Game Before Christmas, which is currently funding on Kickstarter.

   

To find out more about the festive season and its many traditions, order your copy of the Chrismologist's Christmas Explained: Robins, Kings and Brussel Sprouts today!

The book is also available in the United States as Christmas Miscellany: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Christmas.

      

Tuesday, 3 December 2019

The Krampus Kalendar: C is for Yule CAT

The Yule Cat – or Jólakötturinn – is a terrible carnivorous monster from Icelandic folklore. This overgrown puss stalks the winter wilderness, searching for prey. If you encounter it, it will devour you unless you make it an offering of new clothing – a woolly sweater, socks, or something similar. But be warned, the demon cat will know if you are trying to trick it by offering it an old item of clothing!

The Yule Cat, as imagined by artist Tony Hough.

The Yule Cat makes an appearance in 'TWAS - The Krampus Night Before Christmas, and may also crop up in 'TWAS - The Roleplaying Game Before Christmas, which is currently funding on Kickstarter.

   

To find out more about the festive season and its many traditions, order your copy of the Chrismologist's Christmas Explained: Robins, Kings and Brussel Sprouts today!

The book is also available in the United States as Christmas Miscellany: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Christmas.

      

Monday, 2 December 2019

The Krampus Kalendar: B is for the BOX of Delights

The Box of Delights is a children's fantasy novel by John Masefield, remembered as much for the BBC's 1984 dramatisation of it. In the story, Kay Harker returns from boarding school only to find himself mixed up in a battle to possess a magical box, which allows the owner to go small, go swift, experience magical wonders contained within, and travel into the past.


The dramatisation is noted for its Yuletide atmosphere (it is set during Christmas, after all) and has become something of a nostalgic treat for followers of cult TV. The seasonal theme music is Victor Hely-Hutchinson's wonderful orchestral arrangement of "The First Noël" from his Carol Symphony.

If you've never seen it, it's worth checking it out, and if you remember it fondly from your childhood, as I do, enjoy the following clip as you take a trip down memory lane and recall a creepy children's Christmas classic...


I have made my own homage to The Box of Delights in 'TWAS - The Krampus Night Before Christmas, and will do the same in 'TWAS - The Roleplaying Game Before Christmas, which is currently funding on Kickstarter.

   

To find out more about the festive season and its many traditions, order your copy of the Chrismologist's Christmas Explained: Robins, Kings and Brussel Sprouts today!

The book is also available in the United States as Christmas Miscellany: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Christmas.

      

Thought for the Day

“Sometimes there are just too many words filling up space and not enough emptiness left for thinking. I keep a little emptiness inside for when I need it.”

~ Sarah Pinborough, The Language of Dying


Sunday, 1 December 2019

The Krampus Kalendar: A is for ADVENT Sunday

I was hoping that Day 1 of this year's Krampus Kalendar would be A is for Available from Amazon, but it looks like it's going to have to be A is for Alternative Arrangements. (The unavailability of
'TWAS - The Krampus Night Before Christmas on Amazon seems to be a problem at the book distributors end, which we're working hard to resolve.)

But fortunately, today happens to be Advent Sunday. The period of four weeks leading up to Christmas is called Advent, from the Latin 'adveneo' meaning ‘to come’. In this context it refers to the coming of Jesus, and so in the Christian Church has always been a time of preparation, in expectation of the Feast of the Nativity.

In many households the days left until Christmas are counted down with the aid of an Advent calendar. The first Advent calendars, as we would recognise them, were made in the middle of the nineteenth century. Even before that, however, German Lutherans were already marking off the days of Advent by some physical means. In some households this meant lighting a new candle each day or hanging up a religious image, but could be something as simple (and cost-free) as marking a line in chalk on the door of the house. If candles were used, they were mounted on a device called an Advent clock.

The first recognisable Advent calendar, however, didn’t appear until 1851, and even then it was a handmade creation. There is some debate as to when the first printed calendar appeared. Some say that it was produced in 1902 or 1903, in Hamburg, Germany; others claim that it did not appear until 1908, and that it was the creation of one Gerhard Lang, a printer from Munich. And although it might seem like a more recent addition, Advent calendars replete with chocolate treats have actually been around for at least half a century, and were certainly available by 1958.


'TWAS - The Krampus Night Before Christmas makes the perfect stocking filler, while 'TWAS - The Roleplaying Game Before Christmas is currently funding on Kickstarter.

   

To find out more about the festive season and its many traditions, order your copy of the Chrismologist's Christmas Explained: Robins, Kings and Brussel Sprouts today!

The book is also available in the United States as Christmas Miscellany: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Christmas.