Krampus: A Christmas.. Devil?


I was browsing around on National Geographic a couple of days ago and I came across something that I actually did not know about Christmas. There is a horrific Christmas devil named Krampus.

Who is Krampus?

Krampus is a devil that was invented to encourage children to behave during the Christmas season. They would be threatened with seeing Krampus instead of even getting coal from Saint Nick.

He is pretty scary, actually; horns, dark hair, fangs, chains and bells, and a bundle of birch branches that he carries around to swat naughty children with before dragging them down to hell, how could he not be?

His Origins.

So, what exactly were his origins? Where did Krampus come from?

  • His name is derived from the German word, “krampen,” which means, “claw.”
  • He is said to be the son of the Norse god Hel in mythology.
  • He is the counter part of the kindly Saint Nicholas, used to make children behave by threats of punishment from him rather than reward.
  • His night is on December 6, called Krampus Night; yet December 6 is also the feast day of Saint Nicholas.
  • He is used to scare children into behaving; the same thing that fairytales were often used for.

Modern Krampus.

In Austria, Germany, Hungary, Slovenia, and the Czech Republic there is a new way of celebrating Krampus night. Drunk men dress up as the devil and there is a “Krampus Run,” where the drunken men chase people in the streets, swatting at them with branches.

Krampus is making a comeback.

The Catholic Church suppressed the wild celebrations of Krampus and his terrifying presence was deemed a bit too much for children; hence why children are now told that they will get a lump of coal for Christmas if they are bad.

But, lately, there has a been a bit of a “bah, humbug” mentality toward Christmas. Many people are celebrating Krampus in place of Christmas and he is becoming more well known because the suppression seems to be lifted. He is a Christian tradition in Germany, and was until the suppression started.

Austria has even started to commercialize Krampus, with chocolates, figurines, and collectible horns.

Here in America, Krampus celebrations are becoming more common place as well, with parties.

So, not only is there a kindly, immortal man in a red suit who is extremely jolly- there is a horned demon that makes his rounds this season. Happy holidays!

Edited/Published by: SB