On Christmas Day, most celebrate with presents, stockings and Christmas trees and traditionally believe the naughty kids receive lumps of coal for all the trouble they caused throughout the year. However, there are those who believe Santa Claus turns to a much darker character to dish out the punishment. Krampus is known throughout the world but mostly in Alpine regions like Austria and Hungary as a beast-like creature who enjoys punishing naughty children.
Descriptions of Krampus vary but he is mostly known to be devil-like. He is covered in brown or black hair with cloven hooves, long horns and a pointed tongue. He has also been described as a sinister gentleman in black or a man beast. He is known to swat at bad children with switches and chains and carry them away in baskets and bags.
His origins dates back to pre-Christian Germanic traditions, sharing characteristics with the satyrs of Greek mythology. Despite efforts to rid the world of this creature, Krampus figures continue to find its way in to our culture especially after being paired up with St. Nicholas. Since the 1800s, greeting cards containing humorous rhymes, poems and Krampus looming over naughty children have been exchanged. He is celebrated in Austria, Northern Italy, France, Finland, and other parts of Europe on Krampusnacht. People dress up as devils, wild men and witches and participate in Krampuslauf or Krampus Run. All dressed up carrying torches, they carouse through the streets terrifying both children and adults.
Here in America, Krampus has become apart of our culture. BLAB! Magazine curator Monte Beauchamp reintroduced his to Krampus cards in 2004 with his art books. Since then, a Krampus character has been featured on Adult Swim's The Venture Bros, CW's Supernatural and has made an appearance on The Colbert Report. The G4 channel created a Christmas commercial featuring Krampus in 2003. He has been seen in comics such as Chickenhare and Something Positive. U.S. cities such as Portland, Oregon and San Francisco, California participate in rare Krampusnacht celebrations.
As this evil St. Nicholas sidekick continues to grow in popularity you being to wonder, have you been naughty or nice this holiday season?