Foreign language department showcases Holiday Horrors

Luis Martinez, Entertainment Editor

The foreign language department has put together a new holiday themed gallery in Coleman Hall, only instead of focusing on the traditional Christmas-time stories, they decided to take a look at the dark side of the holidays.

Christiane Edyt-Beebe, the interim chair of the foreign languages department, said it would be fun to take a look at the darker holiday stories from different countries.

“We got the idea because we decorated for homecoming, and we won the traveling panther trophy for best office,” Edyt-Beebe said. “Since we are foreign languages, we teach culture. We always have a focus on cultural traditions in different countries, and we said, ‘why don’t (we) do something with the dark side of the holidays in different countries.’”

Edyt-Beebe said all of the languages help to contribute to creating the “Hallway of Holiday Horrors.”

Allorah Miles-L’Hotel, a freshman nursing major, was one of the work-study students who created some of the drawings used as part of the decorations.

“Usually, you always think of a jovial and happy kind of holiday, and we get that from Eastern European tradition,” Miles-L’Hotel said. “This is more of a western European (tradition).”

The foreign language department decorated an entire corner of the hallway, creating different posters of major holiday horror stories from countries like Austria, Iceland, French and Belgium.

These stories include “Krampus,” “Yule Cat,” and “Père Fouettard,” also known as “Father Whipper.”

All of these stories have to deal with the dark side of the holiday season, particular Christmas.

“Krampus,” for example, is a well-known Austrian tale. He is usually seen traveling with St. Nicholas, dealing punishment to naughty children, and is typically seen as a classic devil with horns, hooves, and a monstrous tongue.

“We started with the Krampus, which is actually traditional,” Edyt-Beebe said. “It goes back several hundred years, and people actually send each other Krampus postcards around the holidays.”

Another one of the holiday horror stories being displayed is the tale of the Yule Cat.

The Yule Cat is known for eating those who did not receive new clothes by Christmas Eve. The purpose of the story was to provide incentive for farmers to finish collecting wool before Christmas.

“This goes back to an tradition in Iceland, (and) it actually has socio-economic background,” Edyt-Beebe said. “Farmers would sort of threaten their farmer worker if they weren’t diligently during the harvest season.”

Edyt-Beebe said over the time, the story was used to scare children into not being lazy and to be more obedient.

“Father Whipper” is a similar tale to “Krampus,” but of French and Belgium origin. As atonement for his sins, Father Whipper has to work for St. Nicholas and punishes naughty children by whipping them.

“There are certain components of these figures, like the chains or the switches that you find in the German ‘Krampus’ and the ‘Père Fouettard,’” Edyt-Beebe said. “Basically, all these countries are neighboring countries anyway, and traditions don’t stop at the border, they can be translated and adapted.”

Aside from the “Hallway of Holiday Horror,” the foreign language and English departments will be giving a reading of “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” on Thursday.

“Holidays in different countries, they have the dark side,” Edyt-Beebe said. “St. Nicholas is the one bringing the gifts, but there is also the dark side that comes to punish.”

Edyt-Beebe said Krampus, the Yule Cat and Father Whipper will make a reappearance next year, along with some friends.


Luis Martinez can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]