Krampus, the Christmastime Monster

Stories of the dark half-goat, half-demon monster terrorizing unruly children pre-dates Christianity. Its roots come from Central-European folklore with the exact specifics unknown. His name is derived from either Dutch krampen, meaning “pick” or “iron,” or the Austrian “pickax.” Some rely on the German translation of “cramp.” Krampus is a Christmastime monster.

The consensus is that the story of Krampus was a pagan morality tale appropriated by Christians. The cautionary tale of Krampus lives on today as a warning to all children contemplating bad behavior, for their “reward” will be living in the underworld (i.e., Hell) for one full year where they will be tortured or possibly eaten. The punishment is severe enough to whip young children into their best behavior.

Krampus Night, or Krampusnacht, begins on December 5th. The saltier companion of Joly Saint Nicholas comes above-ground seeking devilish children. His beverage of choice is Schnapps (a fruity Brandy), go figure, as he swats at misbehaving children with gold painted birch branches.

The unfavorable kidnapping tale alarmed communities in the mid-1900s; therefore, towns were encouraged to tone it down or outright ban such celebrations. However, popularity rose again when the film industry started cranking out Krampus and Krampus-like movies. The 2015 movie Krampus was filmed on a $15 million-dollar budget and grossed over $61 million worldwide. Krampus sells.

While Krampus is NOT the anti-Santa Claus, he is the dispenser of bad news (no presents for you) and discipline. Although the tales mention his eating children, no purported cannibalistic rituals involving Krampus and children have been reported. Maybe the threat of visit was all that was needed.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! And…be on your best behavior.