It’s the Christmas season again and guess who will be coming to town? I’m not talking about Santa claus, I’m talking about Krampus. A lot of people out there still don’t know much about Krampus but kids in Germany and Austria fear him. In the last few years more people are finding out who he is. A movie about Krampus came out this year and he was featured on a musical episode of the cartoon series American Dad. So if you don’t know who Krampus is its high time you found out.
Austria had been celebrating the Saint Nicholas festival since the 11th century. During this festival on December 6th people celebrated Saint Nicholas by giving presents to good children and having a massive feast. In the 17th century The Saint Nicholas festival became a lot darker with the introduction of Krampus. While St. Nicholas rewarded good children with presents, Krampus became St. Nick’s polar opposite. Krampus accompanied St. Nick in his sleigh and punished the bad children by hitting them with a switch, tying them up in rusty chains and taking them to hell.
Krampus may not be as well-known in North America but in Austria and other parts of Europe, Krampus has his own holiday the day before St. Nick’s day. On December 5th Krampusnacht is celebrated with people dressing up as demons and other evil creatures. There is usually a parade, bonfires, and Krampus shows up to give naughty children coal. There is also massive amounts of alcohol consumed at this celebration and it’s customary to offer Krampus schnapps because he needs it to take care of all the bad children.
In Europe Krampus is as well-known as Santa Claus and in the 1800’s Christmas post cards became all the rage and several cards had artwork depicting Krampus and showing the dark side of Christmas. In North America Santa took on Krampus’s role as well as Santa Claus gave presents to good kids and coal to the bad. Krampus finally started to gain popularity in the U.S. in 2004 when artist and writer Monte Beauchamp released a book that contained reproductions of Krampus Christmas cards from the 1800’s. He also went on to write a book called Krampus: The Devil of Christmas.
Being a horror addict I love a the idea of what’s basically a supernatural monster associated with Christmas. I like to hear about Santa and his reindeer but it’s also nice to add a little terror to the holiday season and Krampus gives me the horror lift that I need. As if Black Friday and long lines at a cash register wasn’t scary enough. Also Krampus does the world a great service by taking care of all the bad kids for us.
Art work for this post was provided by Bill Rude. Check out his website at:
To Find out more about Krampus check out these sites: