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The four levels of retro Christmas

Embrace the absolutely terrifying yuletide traditions of medieval Europe

Perchta is watching!
Perchta is watching!

Dear Hipster:

Since life is still canceled, I have been thinking about doing some kind of old-school Christmas festivities this year. Got any suggestions for how to make the most commercialized holiday season in the history of commercialized holiday seasons into a more authentically hipster celebration for this year?

— Anthony

You have to ask yourself, how retro do you really want to get? There are four levels of retro hipster Christmas. Keep reading and figure out where you naturally fall on the scale.

Level 1. You watch Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, but you make a point of lecturing your children (or someone else’s children if you don’t have your own) about how animal husbandry (reindeer or otherwise) is really a form of oppression. Congratulations, you’re a Level 1 retro Christmas hipster. Don’t let it go to your head.

Level 2. Christmas hipsters at level 2 focus on labor-intensive, old-school holiday traditions. They lovingly imbibe Christmas puddings with measured applications of rum and brandy starting the day after Thanksgiving. They drive to Canada to cut their own scraggly evergreen trees. They have secret recipes for virtually every sugary alcoholic drink that has ever passed the lips of a holiday reveler, and if you visit them for Christmas they will make you taste every one. They even knit their own ugly sweaters. In my opinion, this is the sweet spot for retro Christmas hipsterism.

Level 3. As a Christmas hipster, you ascend to this level when you start taking things just a little too far with aping other people’s weird Christmas traditions. Maybe you start un-ironically wearing a Zwarte Piet costume in early December, and telling people it’s “traditional” while all your former friends wince whenever you walk by. Or perhaps you consider the Level 2 hipster’s obsessive Christmas pudding curation too pedestrian, so you create your own kiviak (a dish eaten during December in Greenland, consisting of ~500 tiny seabirds sewed inside a dead seal and fermented under a rock for the duration of autumn) and deliver sermons about how Greenlandic culture is “so authentic” as you gag on a meal of briny bird slime. Sure, I’m impressed by you, but that’s not necessarily a good thing. Lots of bad things are technically impressive, like Kanye West’s ability to become a slightly more irritating person than he was last week.

Level 4. Only the most hardcore hipsters can enjoy Level 4, which embraces the absolutely terrifying yuletide traditions of medieval Europe. Pre-Christian European folklore features some horrific figures, such as Perchta, an Alpine pagan goddess who started out as a kind of patron spirit of spinning. Perchta was gradually incorporated into the Yule season, and she is sort of like the Krampus’s girlfriend. Alpine legends start out nicely, with Perchta visiting good children during the holiday season and bestowing gifts of medieval currency upon them. Sounds nice, right? Things escalate quickly after that point, because Perchta also likes to visit bratty children, upon whom she bestows the disproportionately barbaric punishment of slitting open their bellies, disemboweling them, and stuffing their abdominal cavities with straw. Seriously. Good all year, kiddos? You get a nickel! Didn’t do your chores? Ghastly murder. If you’re celebrating the holiday season this way (and frankly, I’m not sure how you’d go about it), congratulations, you are the most hardcore Christmas hipster of all time.

— DJ Stevens

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The Parochial and Plain Sermons of Cardinal John Henry Newman

Best known for both his theological and poetic works
Perchta is watching!
Perchta is watching!

Dear Hipster:

Since life is still canceled, I have been thinking about doing some kind of old-school Christmas festivities this year. Got any suggestions for how to make the most commercialized holiday season in the history of commercialized holiday seasons into a more authentically hipster celebration for this year?

— Anthony

You have to ask yourself, how retro do you really want to get? There are four levels of retro hipster Christmas. Keep reading and figure out where you naturally fall on the scale.

Level 1. You watch Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, but you make a point of lecturing your children (or someone else’s children if you don’t have your own) about how animal husbandry (reindeer or otherwise) is really a form of oppression. Congratulations, you’re a Level 1 retro Christmas hipster. Don’t let it go to your head.

Level 2. Christmas hipsters at level 2 focus on labor-intensive, old-school holiday traditions. They lovingly imbibe Christmas puddings with measured applications of rum and brandy starting the day after Thanksgiving. They drive to Canada to cut their own scraggly evergreen trees. They have secret recipes for virtually every sugary alcoholic drink that has ever passed the lips of a holiday reveler, and if you visit them for Christmas they will make you taste every one. They even knit their own ugly sweaters. In my opinion, this is the sweet spot for retro Christmas hipsterism.

Level 3. As a Christmas hipster, you ascend to this level when you start taking things just a little too far with aping other people’s weird Christmas traditions. Maybe you start un-ironically wearing a Zwarte Piet costume in early December, and telling people it’s “traditional” while all your former friends wince whenever you walk by. Or perhaps you consider the Level 2 hipster’s obsessive Christmas pudding curation too pedestrian, so you create your own kiviak (a dish eaten during December in Greenland, consisting of ~500 tiny seabirds sewed inside a dead seal and fermented under a rock for the duration of autumn) and deliver sermons about how Greenlandic culture is “so authentic” as you gag on a meal of briny bird slime. Sure, I’m impressed by you, but that’s not necessarily a good thing. Lots of bad things are technically impressive, like Kanye West’s ability to become a slightly more irritating person than he was last week.

Level 4. Only the most hardcore hipsters can enjoy Level 4, which embraces the absolutely terrifying yuletide traditions of medieval Europe. Pre-Christian European folklore features some horrific figures, such as Perchta, an Alpine pagan goddess who started out as a kind of patron spirit of spinning. Perchta was gradually incorporated into the Yule season, and she is sort of like the Krampus’s girlfriend. Alpine legends start out nicely, with Perchta visiting good children during the holiday season and bestowing gifts of medieval currency upon them. Sounds nice, right? Things escalate quickly after that point, because Perchta also likes to visit bratty children, upon whom she bestows the disproportionately barbaric punishment of slitting open their bellies, disemboweling them, and stuffing their abdominal cavities with straw. Seriously. Good all year, kiddos? You get a nickel! Didn’t do your chores? Ghastly murder. If you’re celebrating the holiday season this way (and frankly, I’m not sure how you’d go about it), congratulations, you are the most hardcore Christmas hipster of all time.

— DJ Stevens

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