It isn’t anything new. It didn’t begin with schlocko slasher fare like SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT. It isn’t confined to Austria, where Krampus reigns every December. (Other countries have their own equivalents of Krampus, too, like the politically incorrect “Swarthy Pete” of Scandinavia. And speaking of Scandinavia and political correctness, or the defying of political correctness, has anyone heard if the Gävle Goat has been torched this year? The giant straw effigy, itself a pagan throwback, has been burned almost every year since it was first erected. It has become something of a game each year, for the locals to see if they can get past the fences and the guards to torch the goat. This year, I think it’s still standing.) Christmas has always had a horrific underbelly. Children born on Christmas were sometimes considered to be cursed. It was believed that the spirits of the dead could wander on Christmas night, the way they do on Halloween. The supernatural aspects endemic to the ancient Winter Solstice celebrations of various cultures were grafted into the celebration of Christmas, along with the other pagan trappings like the Christmas tree, the hanging of evergreens, and Christmas Elves.

Incidentally, you might think Krampus would be down with the torching of Gavle Goat, but you’d be wrong. Krampus punishes the naughty and those who’ve lost the Christmas spirit. How much more un-spirited can you get than to go burning a straw goat, a symbol of the holiday? That’s the real solution to keeping the Goat from being vandalized. Hire a team of those Krampus impersonators and give them permission to flog bloody anybody who gets too close to the exhibit. Not even the bravest vandal would go through a bunch of drunken Krampus reenactors to work his mischief.