Krampus: He Knows When You’ve Been Good or Bad!
Coal? COAL? You’re worried about coal?
If you’re on the naughty list, coal is the least of your concerns, friend.
Enter Krampus, a satyr from your worst nightmares. The ‘holiday devil’, as many would have.
In many Germanic countries, this Alpine fertility god would come behind (or before) jolly Ol’ Saint Nick. While the big man in a red suit was putting out presents for the good boys and girls of the world, Krampus was flogging, slaving, and eating the bad ones (and this wasn’t the worst of his punishments).
Traditionally, Krampus would beat you with one of the many birch branches he carried in the wicker basket on his back, although some folktales went so far as to claim that he would throw children in icy rivers or devour them. Surviving today are many vintage cards from the 1800’s onwards depicting some of these horrible fates. In fact, since first writing this article two years ago, we’ve watched Krampus become quite popular again, with new Christmas cards, ugly sweaters, and toys featuring the horned and hairy creature are popping up all over the web.
This beast was, according to some, one of the more obscure Jolasveinar (or Yule Lads—Christmas trolls of a sort—more about them later), and not really an “anti-Santa” at all, as many purport. In fact, he is believed by many to be a helper to Santa and part of the bigger Christmas-picture, if you will.
According to tradition, Krampus is celebrated on the 5th of December. However, many renderings featuring the Krampus would feature him and Saint Nicholas getting along just fine, riding in the same sleigh, and often travelling on the same night. Of course, we prefer that night of December 5th, when the Krampusnacht takes place.
The Krampusnacht is a fantastic event when parents get together and parade around town. The twist? The men dress up as Krampus and take to the streets, causing mischief and playfully hitting people with birch branches, invading houses, drinking beer, and generally terrifying children.
Sounds a bit like another of our favorite holidays…hehe. The Krampusnacht is a little needed excuse to dress up as a monster again and go have some fun.
So, Claus or Krampus?
Old Saint Nick or just Old Nick?
Sees me when I’m sleeping? Knows when I’ve been good or bad?
And what with the red suit and horns?
Naughty or Nice…which side of the coin do you find yourself on? If you find yourself on the former list, best to pad your breeches and pray a birch stick is the worst of your punishments!
Stay tuned for the Jolasvenier and Kallikantzaroi coming soon at TheMonsterGuys.com!
Anyone participating in a Krampus walk this year? Tweet us @TheMonsterGuys and let us know!