Let’s get right to it: Krampus is a Christmas demon. What? You don’t have hellish yuletide demons where you live? Then you must not live in Austria or any other German-speaking Alpine regions. The holidays are more than just Christmas markets here, people! The rest of the world’s children have it easy—the scariest thing about their holidays is the possibility of coal in their stockings or accidentally seeing Rudolph mounted on the wall of their local outdoor supplier.
If you already know about Krampus, then chances are you’ve been a very good girl or boy this year. If you don’t, here are some important things you need to know about Krampus:
01 | KRAMPUS IS NOT HUMAN.
Unlike Santa Claus and the elves, Krampus is not made of flesh and blood. In fact, he probably eats flesh and blood for breakfast. Rawr!
Krampus is known to be a creature of half goat / half demon makeup. He’s hairy, usually black or brown, has goat horns, a forked tongue, vicious sharp fangs, and, naturally, cloven hooves. Although sometimes he’s pictured with one hoof and one human foot, so read into that what you will.
02 | KRAMPUS KEEPS CHILDREN IN LINE.
During the Christmas season, it is Krampus who keeps the little kiddies in line. Maybe you’re used to the story of the benevolent Santa Claus who rewards good little girls and boys with gifts. Well, in true German fashion, Krampus is a far cry from “making a list and checking it twice.” Krampus is straight up gonna whoop your ass if you’ve been naughty. Literally. And with a bundle of sticks.
Where Santa is known for rewarding good children with presents, Krampus is famous for beating, whipping, and snatching up the rotten ones, putting them in his weird sack basket, and taking them back to the underworld. Where Santa merely “comes to town” during the holiday season, Krampus is known to watch you punks all day, every day, all year long. Krampus didn’t come all the way from Hell just to return empty handed, after all.
03 | KRAMPUS HAS WEAPONS.
Krampus doesn’t rely on the strength of his goat horns or typical scare tactics alone. Nope; this demon is packing. Krampus is known to roam about town armed with chains, whips, and bundles of birch sticks that he uses to beat children with. (Lemme guess, you still think I’m joking at this point, don’t you? I mean it, I’ve never been more serious.)
04 | KRAMPUS HAS HIS OWN HOLIDAY.
Because of course he does—are you going to tell him he can’t have one? I though so. While the Feast of St. Nicholas occurs annually on the 6th of December, Krampus totally steals St. Nick’s thunder the night before, on the 5th of December, formally known as Krampusnacht. During this anything-but-joyous occasion, Krampus strolls about town visiting homes and businesses checking up on the state of things and dishing out lumps of coal where appropriate. Merry freaking Christmas, geez. If you need me I’ll be hiding under the covers calling out for my mommy.
05 | KRAMPUS AND ST. NICK ARE ACTUALLY BUDDIES.
Or maybe I should’ve said “business partners.” It’s not unusual to see Krampus and St. Nicholas out on the town together—St. Nick bringing joy, Krampus bringing the crippling fear and pain. St. Nick rewards the good children while Krampus handles the ones who bully other children at recess. It’s kinda the perfect partnership if you ask me. There’s a real light/dark side thing happening that I feel helps to perfectly maintain balance in the galaxy. I mean Alps.
06 | KRAMPUS IS A LUSH.
To the surprise of no one, am I right?
When Krampus comes-a-knockin’ on the 5th of December, it’s customary to appease him with schnapps, his booze of choice. I don’t know what happens if you don’t have any on hand, and I sure don’t want to be the one to find out. The guy has fangs, yo. There’s no way that’s going to end well. Though you can pretty much count on getting whipped and beaten anyway—he does have to maintain his reputation, after all.
07 | KRAMPUS IS NOT ALONE.
If you think Krampus is the only Christmas demon out there, you’ve probably been hiding in your gingerbread house for too long. Turns out, there’s a world of terrifying holiday figures just waiting to beat you into obedience.
For instance, also in the land of Krampus (I guess he’s pretty good at sharing) there’s a witch named Frau Perchta who’s known to, if you’re a real piece of work, rip out your guts and replace them with garbage. Lovely.
Then there’s Belsnickel of southwestern Germany who hands out both candy and whippings depending on your tendency towards misbehaving.
There’s Hans Trapp, the French Satan worshipper who lives in the forest but comes out just before Christmas, dressed as a scarecrow, to scare children (not crows, oddly) into being good.
You’ve also got Jólakötturinn, the Icelandic Christmas cat who may very well eat you if you don’t do your chores. (These are getting good!) On the other hand, he rewards the hard workers with new clothes, so that’s nice. Iceland also gives us Gryla, the ogress who kidnaps, cooks, and eats children who disobey their parents.
Now, hurry, go pick up some schnapps.