by Executive Chef, Rycke Foreman
- The Blight Before Christmas
Surveys suggest that 17% of office workers have embarrassed themselves at their employer's Christmas party.
- A Christmas Feral
This episode of holiday hallucinations is bright to you courtesy of reindeer piss. Seriously.
It seems the Sami shamans of Lapland used to feed reindeer toxic mushrooms, then hung around long enough to let the critters process the 'shrooms and pass the funstuff out through the urine, which could then be safely and disgustingly consumed. The shamans would fly through the sky for a while afterwards, before returning home through their chimneys.
(Okay, so a Christmas connection is maybe a bit of a stretch, but this is just oogy enough to mention.)
- I Heard the Hell on Christmas Day
Thousands gathered for Midnight Mass at the village church in Toluca, Mexico, on December 25, 1953, packing it well beyond capacity. Then the lights went out.
In the pitch darkness, all hell broke loose among those gathered in honor of fellowship and self-sacrifice. Twenty-three people met their maker; another 200 suffered injury.
- I Saw Mommy Hating Santa Claus
While most reasonably common phobias have a really cool, hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobic names attached to them, the fear of Santa Clause is known simply as Santaphobia. This condition does not have a proper scientific name.
There is a Facebook page dedicated to the condition, though.
- Santa's Little Hellions
Americans have got it lucky: We have a happy anti-thief who (nowadays) is content enough with a naughty-to-nice ratio of 50/50, give or take 50% either way. Kids the rest of the world over, though...
Knecht Ruprecht, helper of St. Nick in German folklore, enjoyed singling out brats who didn't know how to pray, then either beating them with a bag of ashes or providing their parents with proper whipping tools. (Though he would give prayerful children sweet treats.)
Santa's helper in Austria and Hungary is the demonic Krampus, who enjoys frightening kids, beating people--particularly little girls--with his rod, and dragging the naughty straight to Hell in his basket.
- How the Grinch Murdered Christmas
In 1987, just days before Christmas, retired Master Sergeant R. Gene Simmons shot, strangled or drowned his wife and five of their children. Then he waited for the rest of his family to come home for their holiday visit days later.
On December 26, he murdered eight more family members, including four grandchildren, one of which had been fathered by Simmons himself. After a two-day drunk, he began to drive around to various locations and shoot people. When the smoke cleared, four more were wounded and another two were dead.
After he was found guilty, he stated: "To those who oppose the death penalty in my particular case, anything short of death would be cruel and unusual punishment." Lethal Injection ended his strange story on June 25, 1990, the execution warrant signed by (then) Governor Bill Clinton.
- Black & White Christmas
Nothing promotes peace, joy and unity during the holiday season like dressing up in blackface, right? Especially if the blackfaced character portrayed was formerly Satan, but is now merely a slave to the not-always-so-jolly Sinterklaas. Right?
The character, Zwarte Piet (Black Pete)--with treats for the good and a bundle of birch switches and kidnap bag for the bad--was established in 1845, but didn't even gain a steady moniker until the 1920s.
Though the controversial tradition is still practiced in the Netherlands, modern Zwarte Pieten are typically mischievous helpers who are either slaves freed by Santa and now in voluntary service, or simply fair-skinned helpers made dirty by the soot of a billion chimneys.
- Silent Night, Holy...Shit!
On Christmas Eve, 1945, at the Niles Street Hospital in Hartford, Connecticut, a spark ignited a Christmas tree, quickly spreading an inferno throughout a building with more than 70 patients inside.
Some (though not all) accounts claim the blaze was accidently started and then abandoned by a terrified nurse. Panicked, she fled, leaving the front door wide open, which fed the fire that killed 17 and wounded another twenty-six.
- Yes Virginia, There Is a Satan Claus
The anagram for Santa is pretty easy to figure out, but Claus also rearranges to make Lucas, said to be a code word for Lucifer. Or perhaps Claus is simply to be taken as an homonym, leaving us with Satan Claws?
Both characters are also "Nick"-named, branded by the color red, use "Ho Ho Ho!" as a trademark (the devil more so in medieval times) and are known to consort in the company of demons.
Santa also has strong ties to Scandinavian mythology, particularly the pagan gods Thor and Odin; in fact, Thor is actually known as the Yule god, living to the North and employing crafty elves.
- All I Want for Christmas Is My Two Front Feet
Those crazy Scandinavians are back for more holiday hijinx, serving up a 69FoP-worthy dish known as Syltelabb. A Yuletide favorite, pig trotters (yup, feet) are boiled, then salt cured and served with Christmas Ale. Cheers!
- It's Beginning to Cook a Lot Like Christmas
In the days when electricity was just becoming widespread, a Christmas Eve pageant was held in a one-room schoolhouse in Babb's Switch, Oklahoma, complete with candle-lit tree.
As that year's Santa was passing out the last of the candy, he bumped a branch. In the rush to put out the fire, the tree was knocked over, throwing blazing branches like grenade shrapnel.
Because the room only had a single exit with an inward opening door and the windows were meshed over (a fact undiscovered until the windows were broken, ventilating the inferno), more than 30 people lost their lives, with another 20 injured.
- Christmas with the Pranks
As we've mentioned in issues past, a good practical joke is the gift that can keep on giving, so what better time to give such a gift than on Christmas?
Few praks are as apropos for the season as covering everything in a friend's apartment with festive wrapping paper. (But when we say everything, we mean everything: appliances, toilet paper, previously wrapped gifts that had been dropped off, doors, socks, art on the wall, food--everything. Just don't forget to leave a real gift somewhere among the chaos.)
Don't forget the old gift in a gift in a gift gag, either!
- The 12 Films of Christmas
If Santa's suit isn't the red you're craving, why not gather 'round a warm TV for some holly-jolly mayhem? Classics like Bob Clark's Black Christmas, Don't Open Till Christmas and the cult classic Silent Night, Deadly Night have kept audiences shivering for decades, and not from the winter cold.
Don't forget Gremlins or the original Child's Play for all the horror, half the holidays.