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Krampus - Santa's Pet Devil

Christmas is a time for family, joy, and listening to the strange new things that your elders learned on YouTube. That, and the war on Christmas, which is totally real, and not in any way just a conservative talking point.

It wasn't always the consumerist orgy of spending that it has become. Once, Christmas was a time for cold nights, warm drinks, and ghost stories. Before Santa Claus donned the red and white suit for Coca-Cola, the season was pure.

Europe, where Christmas originated, is awash in a variety of Christmas traditions. From the Dutch tradition of Black Peter, to the Germanic legend of Krampus. Only of those two is overtly racist.

Krampus - Lock up Your Kids

Children are rambunctious. Their near-adult intelligence is coupled with a limited grasp on morals and ethics. Parents in the past have resorted to various boogeymen, or omnipotent beings to keep the kids in line.

These days, Santa's watchful eye is seen as sufficient to keep the children in line. Parents use the threat of his naughty list to scare children, expectant of presents, into good behavior.

There once was, and of late is again, a far more terrifying Christmas creature. Scarier than a lump of coal in your stocking. More sinister than a reindeer with a glowing nose, or tireless elves enslaved to the concept of Christmas. That thing is Krampus.

He's a tall, horned, devil-like thing with a long tongue and a penchant for abduction. Not all depictions of Krampus agree, but there are certain similarities. His body is always covered in fur, ranging from black to white. He has cloven hooves, goat's horns, and a disturbingly long tongue.

Old Krampus has a flair for the dramatic. He carries chains, symbolic of the binding of Satan in Christian mythology, which he rattles for the ambience. Bells are also attached to his chain, to add to the aesthetic. That's right, Krampus is little more than a hairy elder thespian.

Krampus carries a bundle of sticks, and a basket. He uses the sticks to beat the unruly young, and the basket for carrying off the worst offenders. Legends vary on what exactly happens to the taken. Some believe they are dragged directly to hell, to attend Krampus' one-man performance of Hamlet. Others hold that he simply eats the children.


Modern Christmas falls on the 25th of December. European traditions have the celebration occurring earlier in the month. This can be seen in the tradition of Krampusnacht, and St. Nicholas Day.

On 5 December, Krampus is unleashed from Santa's prison in the North Pole. He rushes to Europe, and proceeds to beat and kidnap all the naughty kids on Santa's hit list.

The next day, St. Nicholas Day, the survivors lick their wounds as all the good children receive gifts. Scars from Krampus' attack are a reminder of how close they came to being taken. Incentive for future good behavior.

The two meet back up at the North Pole, high five, and start working on the list for the next year. It's a good deal.

Modern Krampus

These days, there is a movement to preserve European cultural heritage. Things got a little lost in the mad rush of consumerism. One of the traditions that came back hard, was Krampus.

Starting in the late 20th century, Krampus Runs were brought in as a way to celebrate this devious Christmas character. They grew in popularity, and spread to an international audience. Obviously, Americans co-opted the character and even establish Krampus Societies for the promotion and celebration of Santa's naughtiest elf.

Krampuslauf, or Krampus Run, involves a large group of performers dressing up as the titular character, and parading through the streets. The Krampus' usually imbibe alcohol, and chase spectators with sticks. It's a truly wonderful event.

Santa's devil also lends himself to Horror films. He has appeared in several low-budget scares, and even earned himself middling success in his own franchise. Aptly named, Krampus, and featuring a star-studded cast.



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