Who is Krampus?
You have probably heard about Santa and his little helpers, but what about his not-so-jolly sidekick, Krampus? This half-goat, half-demon creature appears in folklore in many forms. It usually appears with horns, brown or black hair on its body, cleft hooves, fangs and a long, pointed tongue. The creature is more commonly found in the Alps region, including Germany, Austria and Bavaria etc.
According to National Geographic, the name “Krampus” is derived from the German word “krampen” which translates to “claw.” The creature has roots in Norse and Greek mythologies.
Krampus aims to balance out the joy surrounding St. Nicholas with his evilness. Unlike St. Nicholas, more commonly known as Santa Claus in the North American regions, who rewards children for good behavior, Krampus punishes those children for being naughty.
Krampus carries chains, demonic bells of various sizes and bundles of birch branches or whips that he uses to swat naughty children with. Sometimes Krampus appears with a sack or a basket strapped to his back. He uses this to carry off evil children to the underworld as punishment for being wicked.
Celebrations and Events
The Feast of St. Nicholas is celebrated in several parts of Europe on 6th of December. On the evening before, that is 5th of December, Krampus Night or Krampusnacht is observed. According to tradition, on this night, the wicked hairy devil appears on the streets accompanying St. Nicholas and dispenses coal and other punishments amongst the wicked children.
Traditional events associated with Krampus Demon include parades and other events such as the Krampuslauf. Krampuslauf translates to Krampus run in English. In this event, young men participate dressed in horrifying costumes to impersonate Krampus. Such events are observed annually in several Alpine towns.
Disapproval of Krampus
Krampus’s frightening presence was suppressed for many years. The Catholic Church forbade the violent celebrations by declaring them unreligious. Fascists during the World War II forbade all celebrations related to Krampus in Europe as they found Krampus despicable and a creation of the Social Democrats. There has been public debate in Austria in modern times about whether Krampus is appropriate for children as it seems to promote a culture of violence and raucousness.
Revival of Celebrations Involving Krampus
Towards the end of the 20th century, Krampus’ popularity rose once again. Celebrations and events themed around Krampus have started to become a lot more common again. This revival began in Bavaria, possibly to promote the local, artistic tradition of hand-carved wooden masks.
His rise to popularity in the modern world is mainly because lately Krampus has made his way into pop culture. This is due to the ever-increasing number of people who have been looking for a different way to spend holidays, instead of participating in the same old traditions. In addition to this, some version of Krampus has been portrayed in several TV shows like “Supernatural,” “American Dad,” “The Office,” and “Grimm.” HE was also portrayed in a horror film in 2013 and another movie based on the terrifying creature is upcoming.
Krampus is also the title of a 2015 horror and comedy movie based on the folklore character. It is an american christmas film.