By Sarah Hunter
Around Christmas time one is probably thinking of spending time with family, presents, or if religious the birth of Jesus, but no one usually thinks about the demon creature that in some folklore steals gifts. “Krampus” is a demon creature with bloodshot eyes large horns with fangs and a long tongue. He is also described as a half goat half demon. People often mistake him for the devil due to his description. During the 12th century, the Catholic Church tried to eliminate the Krampus celebration. Naughty children who would challenge Krampus would be beaten with Birch twigs. He also would kidnap them and take them back to his lair where he would torture them and even eat them.
Krampus’s origins are actually unrelated to Christmas and were a part of pagan rituals in a practice for winter solstice. The origin of Krampus is unknown, but the myth of Krampus has roots in Germany. Traditionally people began celebrating Christmas in the early part of December. Sant Nicholas and Krampus actually worked together. While Santa or Saint Nick would give the presents to the good kids Krampus would beat the bad kids. In Tandem December 5th is known as Krampusnacht, which means Krampus night. Krampus and Santa would go door to door together. Santa would leave gifts for the good kids while Krampus would beat the naughty ones with sticks. In some cases, he would eat them or take them to the underworld.
The next day they would celebrate “Nikolaustag” or “St. Nicholas day.” The children who were good or survived Krampus punishment would wake up to gifts. Between 1890 in the beginning of World War I, Krampus Christmas cards were made by German companies. They would have imagined him terrorizing children and would have sayings on the cards like “be good “or “greetings from Krampus.” The myth of Krampus diminished after World War II, but came back with the renewed folk culture interest in the 1950’s and the 1960’s. By the late 20th century in Austria and Germany they would have a Krampus run where people dressed up like Krampus and run after spectators while beating them with sticks.
One question for the interviewees was, “What did your parents tell you if you were being bad around Christmas time?” Maddy Shoop replied with, “if I was being bad, I was told I wouldn’t get anything.” The second question was, do you know if anything about Krampus? If so, what is it? She replied with, “I don’t know anything about Krampus.” The second interviewee was Emma Nunamaker she replied to my first question with, “I would get coal if I was bad.” Her reply to my second question was “I have no clue.” The last interviewee was Kyleigh Frain. Her response to the first question was, “If I was bad during Christmas time, they would just tell me that I wouldn’t get any presents.” Her response to my second question was, “I don’t know anything about Krampus.”
The reason Krampus is somewhat popular is due to the Christmas horror movie Krampus. It depicts a demon like creation that scares a family during Christmas time. However, most people don’t know the original story of Krampus and the tradition behind it.