Article History HOLIDAY



Until I saw the trailer for the upcoming “Krampus” film, I had no idea that this folkloric character existed. But since the trailer boasted a reputable cast best known for their comedic talents in a film that’s presented as horror, I decided I wanted to know more about this lesser-known villain of Christmas. Here is the extensive history of Krampus, otherwise known as the “Christmas Devil.”

Krampus Versus Santa Claus

Krampus is essentially the bad cop to Santa’s good cop. Santa’s duty is to bring gifts to “nice” children, and Krampus’ is to swat the crap out of “naughty” kids with his preferred weapon — a bundle of birch switches — and to otherwise scare the brats into being good by kidnapping them, bringing them down to his Hellish lair, and antagonizing them until they change their defiant ways, thus effectively taking care of Santa’s “naughty list.”

Who is Krampus? The Origins of the Christmas Devil

Krampus’ name is derived from the German word “krampen,” which means claw, and is believed to be the son of Hel (Satan) in Norse mythology, though he does share the characteristics of other demonic creatures in Greek mythology, such as Satyrs and Fauns. Legend has it that Krampus visits towns the night prior to December 6 or “St. Nicholas Day.” This evening has become known as “Krampus Night.”

On Krampus Night — which takes place in countries like Austria, Germany, Hungary, Slovenia, and the Czech Republic — townspeople get hammered (courtesy of beer and Schnapps, as tradition states) and dress up as devils to run through the streets and chase rebellious youngsters, scaring them Krampus-style into becoming better citizens. These celebrations were frowned upon by the Catholic Church for many reasons, including the many injuries and arrests that would arise from said debauchery.

Who is Krampus? The Origins of the Christmas Devil

Essentially, Krampus was a ploy used by parents to scare their children into being good, with the added benefit of getting spectacularly drunk and chasing the kids in your neighborhood that you hated. In North America, however, we scare our children into being good in a much different, more materialistic way: by telling our if they’re bad they won’t receive any gifts — which even they know is bullshit because they always see presents under the tree no matter how bad they were.

Though the popularity of Krampus’s legend has seen a decline in the past, with the introduction of his namesake film to the North American market on Friday, many may want to adopt Krampus into their Christmas tradition as an effective means of raising a child that’s representative of a Norman Rockwell painting.

In fact, he’s already seeing some love in our parts. Many Krampus-themed parties are being held in North America to honor the demon, including the incredibly popular Krampus Fest in Los Angeles. As a result of the affection overseas, those in Europe are going on rants, claiming Krampus has become too commercialized.

What Does Krampus Look Like?
Who is Krampus? The Origins of the Christmas Devil
Krampus is half goat, half demon, which would mean that his parents had some wild interspecies sex that would have been absolutely horrific to watch. According to scripture, Krampus stands at seven-feet-tall, boasts dark hair, fangs, and demonic horns, and is as hairy as Chewbacca. Perhaps most bizarre, though, are that his feet are mismatched, with one being a cloven hoof and the other, a bear-like claw. In other words, he’s terribly hideous and horribly scary, especially to children who believe he actually exists.



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