SICK of Saint Nick? Kids in need of a serious wake-up call? This long-forgotten legend may be exactly what you need: Krampus, Santa’s demonic sidekick.
YOU better watch out. You’d better not cry. Santa Claus is coming to town. And he’s bringing Krampus — the Christmas demon — with him.
Forget red jumpsuits, silly hats and bulging sacks.
And the Grinch simply doesn’t have what it takes.
If you’re looking to shake-up the crazed Christmas season this year, there’s a horned, fanged, half-goat half demon waiting in the wings for you.
He sees you when you’re sleeping. He knows when you’re awake. He knows if you’ve been bad or good. So be good for goodness sake!
Santa may well be sweet. But his mate Krampus is what happens when you take that for granted.
Krampus is the other half of a good-cop, bad cop scenario that used to be presented to Medieval kids in Eastern Europe.
There’s no jingling bells or dashing reindeer for this guy. Instead, he tags along with Santa’s sleigh equipped with his own whipping cane and chains, while his cleaved hoofs can be heard stomping through the snow.
And as for presents under the tree … Krampus isn’t about giving. He’s all about fear.
Naughty children are his target. And he’s out to give them a good spanking — and drag them kicking and screaming down to the underworld once they cross that line.
And don’t think Santa will save you from Krampus’ lash if you cry.
They’re in cahoots.
It appears Krampus is another example of the time-honoured tradition of grafting ancient local customs into Christian mythology — just like Saint Nicholas himself.
But Santa’s shady sidekick has been left in the shadows of late.
Krampus’s pagan origins are lost in the murk of time, predating Christianity by centuries. Some believe he is based on a son of the Nordic god Hel — lord of the dead. His name is drawn from the Germanic word krampen — claw.
But many of his modern features have been assembled from Greek and Roman mythology — notably the naughty satyrs and fauns.
He’s even got his own night: He roamed the streets on the night before St Nicholas Day (December 6) — Krampusnacht. It was a time of revelry and debauchery.
But as the clock passed midnight, Santa was on his way.
The next morning children would peek inside shoes left at their front door to see if they had been judged naughty or nice. If their shoe held a gift, they had been good enough to enjoy the festive season. If it was a rod or lump of coal … Krampus was on to you.
Children faced the very dire consequence of being beaten, chained and tossed into a wicker basket to be dragged down to Hell. Here they would suffer for a whole year — until the next St Nicholas Day.
Krampus fell out of favour in recent centuries. The celebrations of Krampusnacht were deemed inappropriate by the Catholic Church during the 12th Century. And even the Fascists of the early 20th Century clamped down on the tradition further, claiming the demonic enforcer to be a left-wing conspiracy.
But he survived.
He still lurks in Eastern Europe, and his legend has begun to be revived around the world. His tale has evolved to become one of a mostly harmless, drunken devils who take over the streets on the night before St Nicholas Day.
In Australia, Krampuslauf — a Krampus Run — is a tradition where people get chased through the streets by these Grinchy Christmas demons. It’s a favourite pastime for heavily costumed young men — often heavily fortified for the occasion.
It’s a resurgent tradition that has begun to take root as far away as the United States.
And Krampus has just got real.
He’s been commercialised.
You can now buy Krampus chocolates, figurines and memorabilia in Austria and parts of Eastern Europe — as a not-so subtle hint to toe the line, kids, or else …
H/t reader kevin a.