European Christmas cards in the 1800s featured kids being whisked away to hell by the Christmas Demon, Krampus.
The cards cheerily passed on Gruß vom Krampus (Greetings from the Krampus).
Krampus is the anti-Santa in countries including Austria, Bavaria, Croatia and the Czech Republic.
On the evening of December 5, this “half-goat, half-demon” hands out coal and sticks to the naughty children.
Far from being Saint Nick’s enemy, he’s the sidekick.
According to centuries-old legends, if a child misbehaved, Saint Nicholas dispatches Bad Santa.
His job is to beat the “wicked” children with a bundle of birch sticks, whip them with horsehair and possibly throw them into a sack to take down to Hell for a year!
He is hairy, usually brown or black, and has the cloven hooves and horns of a goat. His long, pointed tongue lolls out and he has fangs.
Where does the Krampus come from?
His origin isn’t clear. Like Santa, he probably predates Christianity, stemming from Norse and Alpine traditions and Germanic paganism.
The word “Krampus” is derived from the Old High German word krampen, meaning “claw.”
According to Norse mythology, he is the son of Hel, the goddess ruler of the underworld.
The anarchic presence was suppressed for many years — first by the Catholic Church and later by World War II fascists.
The Catholic Church forbade the raucous celebrations.
Fascist Austria vowed to arrest Krampus on sight.
He was part of a beastly left-wing conspiracy!
Vienna’s kindergarten system published a pamphlet calling the Christmas demon “an evil man” and warning parents that celebrating him could scar children for life.
Krampus is baaaaaaack.
In Austria and parts of Germany, people still dress up as Krampus to scare children on Krampusnacht (December 5th).
In the modern version, drunken men dressed as devils, who take over the streets for a sort of Krampus Run, when people are chased through the streets by the “devils.”
This time, governments encourage the monster.
There’s plenty of money in themed chocolates, figurines, and collectible horns.
Already people complain that Krampus is becoming too commercialized.
Siobhan O’Shea is a freelance writer. She writes about pretty much everything but especially likes to bring readers’ attention to new tech, marketing, human behavior, and other oddities.