Krampus: The Demon From The Darker Side of Christmas

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By: Alex Postrado

Why Santa Has a Demonic Crony

Folklore and fairy tales have long been part of human history.

As kids, these were the stories our parents used to either put us to sleep or teach us life lessons that we’ll carry as we grow older.

Today, however, some parents are becoming more and more hesitant in sharing these classic tales with their children.

The reason? According to them, folk stories are too scary for kids.

And while we may have different opinions on that, it’s important to note that folklore has — in fact — its bright and dreamy side, the same way that it has its dark and, sometimes, merciless parts.

A perfect example of that is Krampus.

You probably know him from the seemingly unending list of films and TV shows, depicting him.

Or maybe even from the Krampus celebrations, held in some regions of the world.

But, if you don’t, you’re in luck! Here is the lore and history of Krampus, the Christmas demon.

Krampus tempting a child

The Yuletide Beast of Alpine Folklore

Christmas is for celebration, right?

But, if so, why is there a story about a horned goat-demon that terrorizes children at Christmas time?

He is Krampus.

A hairy, anthropomorphic monster in central European legends.

Originating in Germany — but gaining prominence in Austria — Krampus got his name from the German word Krampen — meaning, “claw.”

Just by that, you’d already know that he is fearsome!

According to the lore, he — like a goat — has cloven hooves and horns, and — like a demon — has fangs and bloodshot eyes.

Top that with a long, pointed tongue, as well as a body covered with black fur — and you’ve got Krampus.

But Krampus — believe it or not — isn’t your typical boogeyman.

He is basically Santa Claus’s partner in crime.

A companion as St. Nick stops door-to-door during early Yuletide, to see whether the children have been naughty or nice.

And that visit happens every night of the 5th of December.

Instead of being about St. Nicholas, though, the occasion is called Krampusnacht or Krampus Night, in English.

During that, St. Nicholas will leave presents to children who behaved well during the year.

And, as for those who didn’t — well, they better run.

Krampus isn’t like jolly, old St. Nicholas.

The lore has it that Krampus chases naughty children and punishes them for misbehaving.

The punishment, however, differs from story to story. But it extends from beating the youngsters with the bundle of birch twigs that he typically carries, to hauling them off directly to hell — possibly to torture or to have as a snack.

If you happen to be among the good ones, though, you’ll again see the light of day on December 6 — known as Nikolaustag or St. Nicholas Day — and find the gifts and treats waiting for you.

Krampus mask

Can You Survive Krampus?

Here’s the thing.

Other than his birch twigs, Krampus is also said to carry chains in his hand, and a basket — strapped to his back — used to cart off naughty children to the underworld.

These are the physical things you need to be aware of if you’re worried Krampus might come and get you, and you want to survive.

You read that right! Surviving Krampus — and not just getting dragged to hell — is an option.

But, like every fighting game out there, aside from knowing your opponent’s weapons, you also need to understand what makes him weak.

Fortunately for you, that’s an easy one!

It is said that, if offered an apple or an orange by a child, Krampus will sit down to eat it and share it with everyone who is there.

Bonus part: he will also engage in polite conversation and leave the place, “harming no one“.

But what if that doesn’t work out for you? Do you have to kill him?

Greetings from Krampus

Maybe — if you want to live. However, there is no known way to permanently kill Krampus.

You can still try the “Evergreen Stake” plot from Supernatural, if you want, though. All you need to do is stab Krampus with a “stake made from the branch of an evergreen tree, dipped in the blood of the dark side of God, himself”.

Simple? Up to you.

Is Krampus Real?

Before you go stressing yourself out on how you could survive Krampus, you should probably know more about his existence first.

Is Krampus real or not?

And if he is, where does he dwell?

The lore says that Krampus hails from the Alpine region of Austria — “coming out of the foothills or descending from the mountains”.

He is part of a centuries-old folk tradition on Yule. But, ironically enough, his native roots have nothing to do with Christmas nor Catholicism.

You could say that Krampus is just another messed-up case of pagan belief suppression.

In reality, Krampus dates back to pre-Germanic paganism, where he is considered “the son of the Norse god of the underworld, Hel”.

And because of his uncanny resemblance to the devil, during the 12th century, the Catholic Church tried to erase most of his traces from European culture and repackage the rest in ways that could reflect their own narratives.

Then-involving their Patron Saint of Children, St. Nicholas, in the lore — with him, being the good and friendly figure, and Krampus as the ugly and torturous demon.

To this day, there’s still no legitimate evidence that Krampus ever existed anywhere in the real world.

Regardless, he remains a crucial part of the Christmas season — not only in Austria and some regions of Germany, but also in America, Hungary, Slovenia, the Czech Republic, and other parts of the world.

A cultural heritage, descending from pagan rituals for the winter solstice — and now, as the companion, furthermore, antithesis of Santa, himself, and the demon of Christmas-time.

And they said the song “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town” was supposed to be merry.


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