Thursday, December 23, 2010

Merry Christmas & Beware the Krampus!!!

A postcard of a man holding a Krampus doll
Many boys & girls will be going to bed Christmas Eve wondering what Santa Clause will bring them this year for Christmas. "Will I get the XBox I asked for?" "Will Santa give me Computer Engineer Barbie?" But, if you're a naughty child & you live in Germany or Austria, you'll be wondering if the Krampus will give you a whippin' or take you to purgatory!

That's right, the Krampus. The Krampus is a mythical creature that resembles a demon & would join Santa Christmas Night on his trip from house to house, but while Santa gave out gifts for all the good children, the Krampus would give out warnings or whippings for the bad children, or if you are truly bad, he'd throw the child in his backpack to be taken to purgatory. It was probably a lot more helpful than a warning of getting coal on Christmas. "Helga, if you keep pulling your cat's whiskers, the Krampus won't hesitate to take you to HELL!" I'm sure that stopped her right in her tracks.
Merry Christmas!!!

The Krampus tradition was mainly celebrated in Austria, Germany, Hungary, Italy & the Czech Republic, but after the Austrian Fascist and the German Nazis targeted the tradition, the Krampus became less embedded in the winter customs. Still, in some Austrian communities, men will dress up as the demon on December 5th to scare the women & children with rusted chains, whips & bells. So, if you're looking to spice up your holidays, or you're more of a fan of Halloween, put on a Krampus outfit & really give the kids something to be grateful for.


  1. I heard about this on NPR just this past week, which went a long way towards demystifying the whole "naughty or nice" line in the coming to town song.

    It would be interesting to know if the Krampus tradition actually predates St. Nick and is some sort of solstice holdover from the pagan and/or pre-Christian traditions.

  2. I tried to look deep, deep in the Krampus' origins, but I didn't find much, but like the common representation of demons & devils, his look probably stemmed from animal worship & the demonization of artist, writers & poets using the Greek god, Pan, as inspiration in the 19th century.

  3. Some old greeting cards show Krampus as almost child size, being carried by St. Nicholas, so this one might be St. Nicholas with the real thing.