Revelers revealed their darker sides at the Parade of Spirits in Northern Liberties on Saturday. The annual gathering is inspired by Krampuslauf, a central European tradition honoring the half-goat, half-demon Krampus, who punishes naughty children. Decked out in feathers, branches and faux fur, the participants march through the neighborhood singing and ringing bells.
Wearing a hand-carved mask from his time studying in Austria, Graydon Dunkelberger said he appreciated the darker way of celebrating the season, and the contrast between a commercialized Santa Claus and Krampus, a folk tradition. With darker days, Dunkelberger said, he reflects. “You never know how happy you are until you feel sadness.”
Caroline Pastore and Kristyn Johnson attended the parade for the first time in 2018 but didn’t dress up, and they were instantly converted. This year, they spent hours gluing pine cones and silk flowers to their headpieces. They hoped the focus on nature would inspire people to appreciate the earth in a hectic, commercialized holiday season.
Victoria Young came from Phoenixville to celebrate the heathen tradition. She said winter is often a time to sit back and ponder, for introspection, bringing up scary stuff from within. She said the Parade of Spirits is a chance to examine the darker side of oneself, and to better recognize light and joy.