Krampus: The Other (and Darker) Christmas Icon of Europe

December 23, 2015

Christmas is coming and do you know what it means? Santa Claus is coming with your presents, kids! Well, Santa Claus has been around hanging in homes or chilling at public spaces for weeks to remind everyone that his special holiday is on the way. However, he isn’t the only one who wants to give kids presents or a high five. Meet Krampus, Santa Claus’s (originally Saint Nicholas) other half, and he’s on his way to give not presents but a good whipping on naughty kids and adults.

Photo Credit: pixel0908

Photo Credit: pixel0908

Photo Credit: philip_taylor_king

Photo Credit: philip_taylor_king

Krampus is a horned, anthromorphic creature who punishes the misbehaving kids, unlike Saint Nicholas who gives gifts to the good ones. Created by Austro-Bavarian folklore, the character’s origins were quite unclear but as some pagan elements and holidays were blended with Christianity, Krampus is believed to be a pagan supernatural that assimilated to the Christian devil as a counterpart to St. Nicholas.

Photo Credit: alexanderkoch

Photo Credit: alexanderkoch

Krampus whose name derived from the German word kramen, meaning claw, is said to be the son of Hel in Norse mythology. In the folklore, he shows up in towns the night before December 6, known as Krampusnacht or Krampus Night, strolling around with coal and ruten bundles. December 6 on the other hand is known as Nikolaustag, or St. Nicholas Day when German kids wait for their shoes or boots they left the other night to contain either presents for being good or a rod for being naughty.

Photo Credit: alexanderkoch

Photo Credit: alexanderkoch

Photo Credit: ni82co

Photo Credit: ni82co

Krampus’s face may be depicted differently but usually, he’s hairy with cloven hooves and horns of a goat. His face should be of course, scary and demonic with his tongue out.

Photo Credit: 40138

Photo Credit: 40138

Photo Credit: 40138

Photo Credit: 40138

Nowadays, Krampus can be seen through a special event called Krampuslauf or Krampus Run. Krampuses are gathered together wearing their elaborately handmade masks and costumes. They roam around the streets scaring the audience, greeting kids nicely, dirtying up some random faces with charcoal, beating people with twigs, spitting fire, dancing, and making fun of those who provoke them. These events can be seen in European countries such as Austria, Hungary, Slovenia, Czech Republic, Croatia, and Germany.

Photo Credit: alexanderkoch

Photo Credit: alexanderkoch

Photo Credit: philip_taylor_king

Photo Credit: philip_taylor_king

Here’s a video to know more about this scary yet fun Krampus Run.

So, would you rather be naughty to meet Krampus?