A warning might be appropriate for one of the stops on this year’s City of Murrieta Holiday Home Decorating Contest map.
At least one concerned parent would say so.
“As my family was driving the Murrieta house lights contest...we came up to house number 10,” wrote the concerned parent, who wished to remain anonymous. “I was appalled that the City of Murrieta would allow someone to enter a home with a theme representing the devil. My 3-year-old was frightened by the home and I was disgusted. I'm asking that you help make this disrespectful issue known to the residents of Murrieta.”
Murrieta resident Stori Nagel, credited with handmaking entry No. 10, said the monster perched on the second-story level of her family’s home at the end of Floral Creek Circle was meant to be educational. “Greetings From Krampus, XOXO,” reads a large sign installed next to the creature that is carrying a doll on his back and holding a broomstick in his gnarled hand.
Krampus is a mythical creature whose association with Christmas dates back centuries, an Internet search revealed. “Forget the Grinch and Scrooge – there’s an older, scarier Christmas villain,” wrote one website, Bizzaremag.com. “According to European legend, the Krampus was St Nikolaus’ servant who was sent to terrorise naughty children. If they were lucky they only got a beating but, if they were very, very bad, they’d be cast into flames.”
Nagel explained that in an attempt to instill some tradition in her and her husband’s three children—ages 15, 13 and 9—she first came across the legend of Krampus about six years ago. Her husband is German and Dutch and she is German and Swiss, and she was seeking to found out what their heritage’s holiday traditions were.
“Most Christmas traditions are German, like the Christmas tree and St. Nicholas,” Nagel said she rediscovered.
Then she ran across the European folklore surrounding Krampus, which attracted her because of her fascination with monsters that began in childhood. Because she developed too quickly and her parents did not have a lot of money, she said she identified with monsters such as Wolfman, who were often “misunderstood.”
“So how does Santa know if you have been good or bad?," Nagel said. "Well if you have been bad, Krampus comes to see you and hits you with a switch and if you are real bad he kidnaps you. So it is basically like a warning: ‘Be good or Krampus will come and see you.’”
Nagel believes that Krampus was “omitted (from contemporary traditions) because it was a little too scary.”
Further, she said she finally made the Krampus decoration this year to fulfill a promise to her children—and because one never knows how long they are going to live. There were no decorations at the Nagel home last year, because on Dec. 15, 2012, she had a radical double mastectomy after she was diagnosed with stage III breast cancer.
“Any Tom, Dick or Harry can go to Walmart and buy some blowups and call it decorated,” Nagel said. “Everybody does that, and everybody is like ‘Santa Claus, Santa Claus.’ But they don’t know who he was before he came to the United States. He didn’t even look like he does now.”
As for her new Krampus display, she admits it is still a work in progress. She said her plans were to add a large scroll explaining his significance.
“I can see where it would be alarming but the point is not to scare people,” Nagel said. “It’s to say that if you aren’t bad you don’t have anything to worry about. Kids get presents and they are bad and they don’t deserve it; there is no punishment any more. And they get their iPad or whatever.”
Patch checked with the City of Murrieta to get its take on the decoration.
“The City’s annual Holiday Home Decorating Contest is an activity open to all Murrieta residents, and although this particular entry does not entail what many might consider traditional holiday themes, it appears to be a part of the family’s culture and heritage during the Yule tide,” said Lea Kolek, City of Murrieta Parks and Recreation manager. “As such, it is an unconventional entry to this year’s contest.”
There are 30 entries in the city contest this year, plus four neighborhood blocks. The entries were submitted via the city website, and then the city published a map. Through Dec. 19, it is asking residents to vote for their favorite entries in five categories: Best Block, Holiday Spirit, Best Use of Lights, Most Festive and Most Creative.
According to Kolek, the city is also aware that there are a few homes on this year’s list decorated in the “Nightmare Before Christmas” theme.