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Krampus: The Darker Side of Christmas

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I was captivated by Christmas as a bowl-cutted, gap-toothed child. My family’s modest ranch home didn’t have a chimney, but we somehow received gifts anyway (my parents said that Santa used the front door, because he was familiar like that — no need to knock). My sisters and I made lists, attempted not to pants each other in anger and generally tried to weasel our way into Mr. Claus’s good graces, but we occasionally failed. I’m not ashamed to admit that I received rocks, twigs and even a piece of coal in my stocking, much to my shock and dismay. (There was also a bike in the mix, but that’s neither here nor there.)

If you’ve ever been on the naughty side of Santa’s list, be warned: there’s worse in store for you than broken twigs and the disappointment of an unidentified black rock. If you live in the remote Alpine villages of Austria and Hungary, you’ll have to face up to Santa Claus’s muscle, the hooved, horned and goat-draped Krampus.

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Krampus roaming the streets, terrorizing the youth.

 

Be afraid. Be very, very afraid.

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These demonic Christmas cryptids, along with a wide variety of other nefarious aides and companions, have accompanied Saint Nicholas on his gift-giving journeys in the Central and Eastern European Alps for hundreds of years. Cloven feet aside, these monstrous figures (really local youths with a love for tradition, with some casual sadism thrown in) are quite frightening to see, brandishing chains, whips, and switches at the townsfolk. According to Der Spiegel, “On December 5, the day before St. Nicholas arrives with his sack of gifts, local men dress up in goat and sheep skins, wearing elaborate hand-carved masks. They make the rounds of village houses with children. When the kids open the door, they’re frightened by Krampus-clad men waving switches at them and ringing loud cowbells. In some towns, kids are made to run a Krampus-gauntlet, dodging swats from tree branches.”

 

 

 

 

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Krampus imagery through history

The big question is, why submit to this type of abuse? (And it looks quite scary. Search for “krampus attack” on YouTube if you’re curious.) Well, if you want that precious bicycle and you just happen to be a bit of a bad kid, you’ll suffer through a few gentle whaps (or worse) from Krampus to keep your presents when Saint Nick rolls into town. As Krampusfest, a site dedicated to all things Krampus, states, “Wayward children caught by Krampus are spanked, whipped and even shackled to be spirited away in either a basket or barrel to Krampus’ lair. Once there they receive further punishment until they are repentant.”

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Saint Nicholas and his gang of Krampus

Speaking of repentance, the Santa Claus figure in this scenario isn’t too far from the familiar face I know and love, aside from his questionable taste in sidekicks. Jolly old Saint Nicholas comes bearing trinkets, candy and other gifts for well-behaved children, all conveniently delivered into hay-filled shoes before the fireplace. However, before children can receive their rewards they’d have to face up to both judge and jury, the Krampus gauntlet. 

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A Pied Piper-inspired picture postcard of Krampus

And what of the handiwork that goes into these horrifying costumes? Goat-masks probably aren’t crowding the shelves of the local costume store, I’m guessing. These gigantic affairs are typically handmade from genuine goat and ram horns, sheepskins and other types of fur. Bells, switches and whips are also crucial to the Krampus facade, with many elements passed down through families. Older masks were carved from wood with pointed animal ears and fangs.

Portrayals of Krampus in art, particularly in postcards from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, spread the lore of this terrifying holiday monster far and wide. Images usually show him with a basket on his back to carry away bad children and dump them into the pits of hell. That’s enough to keep me from misbehaving!

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Roasting hearts on a spit, naturally. Oh, Krampus.

At the end of the day, after the children have been given a proper fright to ensure they stay on the straight and narrow, the rowdy Krampus are rewarded with holiday spirits, traditionally beer and schnapps. In fact, Krampus celebrations have become so popular that they can last for days before the arrival of Saint Nicholas on December 6. How will you be celebrating this year?

 

For more information about this storied and historic tradition, be sure to check out The Devil in Design: The Krampus Postcards

Have you partaken in the Krampus parade? What’s the handmade aspect of your holiday traditions?

More Posts on Holiday Traditions | More Posts on Costumes

  • JAdamsDesigns

    JAdamsDesigns says:

    Awesome! LOL

    3 years ago

  • chartreuseandhoney

    chartreuseandhoney says:

    wow, that's really interesting. I thought the whole belsnickles thing was scary enough. thanks for the article!

    3 years ago

  • SpottedFish

    SpottedFish says:

    I don't want any presents from that guy! :)

    3 years ago

  • NotGrandmasVintage

    NotGrandmasVintage says:

    Love it!! A history lesson and something that fits my twisted sense of humour. Thanks so much and Merry Krampus.

    3 years ago

  • SpringColors

    SpringColors says:

    that's really interesting and I love the fiery devils

    3 years ago

  • eeksten

    eeksten says:

    Aww, I love Krampus! Thanks for posting this!

    3 years ago

  • DayDreamerVintage

    DayDreamerVintage says:

    Very interesting, I didnt know this side of Christmas. To be honest, I kinda like it. LOL

    3 years ago

  • oguerrero

    oguerrero says:

    Wow, pretty scary.

    3 years ago

  • pocketcarnival

    pocketcarnival says:

    Yikes! Krampus is enough to turn anyone off Christmas!

    3 years ago

  • commoncreativ

    commoncreativ says:

    So weird! very interesting though, seems like an interesting source of inspiration if ya ask me! =]

    3 years ago

  • riskybeads

    riskybeads says:

    omg, that were skerry.

    3 years ago

  • suchprettycolors

    suchprettycolors says:

    Hilarious...I think David Sedaris did an essay on Krampus, or the Dutch version of him. And like I always say, Santa himself is only one switched letter away from Satan!

    3 years ago

  • Parachute425

    Parachute425 says:

    Oh my! I've never heard of Krampus. Will definitely read more of the history. Some of those pictures are horrifying. Leave it to Alison to post the most intriguing images and stories. Thanks for the lesson.

    3 years ago

  • BingoBox

    BingoBox says:

    Evil Capricorni-claws !!

    3 years ago

  • Ayun

    Ayun says:

    This is awesome and hilarious. It reminds me of this wild painting in my parent's 3-volume Time-Life Xmas series, showing seraphim battling hairy demons with faces on their 'boon-like booties Could not get enough of that as a child.

    3 years ago

  • VivaGailBeads

    VivaGailBeads says:

    Puts "He knows if you've been bad or good..." into perspective! lol

    3 years ago

  • jfsd

    jfsd says:

    This should be a worldwide tradition!!!

    3 years ago

  • TerraCottaTextiles

    TerraCottaTextiles says:

    WOW! I know about St. Nicolas and putting shoes on the window sill and getting lentils and a willow switch if you were bad (I never managed the sweets and a clementine) but even coming from Slovakia I have been spared the Krampus Saga ... definitely entails investigation!

    3 years ago

  • MishaMishap

    MishaMishap says:

    I love this article!

    3 years ago

  • GrammiesInspirations

    GrammiesInspirations says:

    My brother and sister lived in Austria after WWII. They talked about being afraid of a guy walking around in a robe.

    3 years ago

  • voodoopastry

    voodoopastry says:

    Brilliantly written! I have always loved the story of the Krampus, especially coming from a German mother and celebrating St. Nickelous Tag each year (food in a boot! Genius!), and loving monsters as I do. You did a great job putting a hilarious spin on a creepy legend.

    3 years ago

  • Monkeyville

    Monkeyville says:

    I love this article! I have to bookmark it, because it gives me all sorts of ideas!

    3 years ago

  • vistahsoap

    vistahsoap says:

    OOooh, Glad I was spared from that legend as a child. Scary stuff!

    3 years ago

  • calloohcallay

    calloohcallay says:

    Wonderful postcards, with the imagery of children in barrels (I presume from the story of Saint Nicholas bringing back to life children who had been butchered and place in a barrel).

    3 years ago

  • aynart

    aynart says:

    yowza! very cool!

    3 years ago

  • PoleStar

    PoleStar says:

    This is my new discipline method.

    3 years ago

  • TheNikiProject

    TheNikiProject says:

    Oh man, the Krampus are some creepy lookin devils aren't they!? They would be enough to scare me into behaving!

    3 years ago

  • HanaKiStudio

    HanaKiStudio says:

    we were shining shoes yesterday for st niklaus,I got nothing but silver branches. Great article ,the costumes are intricately embroidered and handed over with each generation .

    3 years ago

  • sydandmarc

    sydandmarc says:

    Much scarier than the lump of coal stories and the "Santa Claus is coming to town" I got.. Who wants to go to hell? Not me

    3 years ago

  • OneClayBead

    OneClayBead says:

    haha, I love this! You may be seeing some krampus ornaments from me next year.

    3 years ago

  • tippleandsnack

    tippleandsnack says:

    Yikes! I've never, ever heard of Krampus. Now I'll never, ever get him out of my brain!

    3 years ago

  • myvintagecrush

    myvintagecrush says:

    Boo! I've heard of this before - haha!

    3 years ago

  • carolinaj

    carolinaj says:

    A little too negative for me....... Don't like this post at all.

    3 years ago

  • LittleWrenPottery

    LittleWrenPottery says:

    Kinda scary! Never heard of this before cool at the same time though : )

    3 years ago

  • candacejean

    candacejean says:

    This really truly is neat! I've never heard of krampus before. Forget "elf on the shelf", I think I'll be sharing my new found krampus knowledge with my son..

    3 years ago

  • kadydesigns

    kadydesigns says:

    Wow! Never heard of this! I know the kids would be scared of this, but I have to say I'm a little scared myself!!!

    3 years ago

  • candacejean

    candacejean says:

    ..in a kind, loving, gentile way of course! Haha. :)

    3 years ago

  • LegendaryTigerHero

    LegendaryTigerHero says:

    I want to start a metal band with the Krampus!

    3 years ago

  • LegendaryTigerHero

    LegendaryTigerHero says:

    BTW- Happy Sinterklaas!

    3 years ago

  • PattiTrostle

    PattiTrostle says:

    I've never heard of this..wow! Poor kids! HAHA!!

    3 years ago

  • labellefairy
  • paramountvintage

    paramountvintage says:

    great article and images!

    3 years ago

  • ginaregina

    ginaregina says:

    Krampus and Saint Nicholas are traditions in Croatia too. Especially we love Saint Nicholas because he is also saint guardian of sailors.

    3 years ago

  • VintageMarketPlace

    VintageMarketPlace says:

    Oh this is awesome, kids need to be fearful these days! LOL

    3 years ago

  • mudpuppy

    mudpuppy says:

    LOVE it!

    3 years ago

  • crankbunny

    crankbunny says:

    yay for Krampus!

    3 years ago

  • Mclovebuddy

    Mclovebuddy says:

    hmmm, the pre-industrial grinch on steroids.

    3 years ago

  • BrassCatStudios

    BrassCatStudios says:

    LOL! I learned a little about Krampus last year...I almost forgot all about him!

    3 years ago

  • TheImmortalKey

    TheImmortalKey says:

    I've never heard of Krampus. What a great tradition! I'd start this in my neighborhood if I thought I wouldn't get arrested! LOL. Thanks for sharing.

    3 years ago

  • LaurelDChristian

    LaurelDChristian says:

    wicked crazy great...

    3 years ago

  • doters

    doters says:

    So even CHRISTMAS has a CLOVEN-TOED side!! Love it.

    3 years ago

  • strib79

    strib79 says:

    Loved IT!! Maybe this will give me some leverage on my daughter so she'll behave better before Good Old Saint Nick arrives...

    3 years ago

  • heatherfuture

    heatherfuture says:

    This article makes me laugh AND is going to give me nightmares. Perfect hilarity/creepiness combo. The imagery around Krampus is fantastic!

    3 years ago

  • artofjane

    artofjane says:

    this is so interesting. love the old postcards. i never knew.

    3 years ago

  • FunkyFriendsFactory

    FunkyFriendsFactory says:

    eeeeek! Funny that Christmas has such a dark side - I prefer the 'sugar plum fairies' version myself!!!

    3 years ago

  • blueskyclouds

    blueskyclouds says:

    Wow!!!!

    3 years ago

  • TwoPackRats

    TwoPackRats says:

    Yikes!

    3 years ago

  • PatinaArtsAlchemy

    PatinaArtsAlchemy says:

    Who needs a wimpy time-out, when you can unleash The KRAMPUS!!

    3 years ago

  • birdie1

    birdie1 says:

    How charming.

    3 years ago

  • polkadotmagpie

    polkadotmagpie says:

    Fun story. Didn't learn about Krampus until I was an adult. You reminded me of this --> I have a brother who is ten years older and took all my stuff out of my sock and hid it. Then put charcoal in my sock. Christmas morning I was in hysterics in my parents bedroom crying:"but I was a good girl!" That was an odd Christmas morning, to say the least!

    3 years ago

  • RubySkeleton

    RubySkeleton says:

    Very interesting & much to my liking! Krampus is very much needed for some of the children of today- unleash him!

    3 years ago

  • taraweeks214

    taraweeks214 says:

    interesting these are usually the offbeat things I like to know lol and this is a new one thanx

    3 years ago

  • shop1848

    shop1848 says:

    Super cool!!

    3 years ago

  • MutantAngel

    MutantAngel says:

    This article made me take the Lord's name in vain several times. Now I'm going to have to watch out for Krampus...

    3 years ago

  • breadandroses2

    breadandroses2 says:

    Who knew? There were lots of eastern European immigrants in my earliest neighborhood and surely I would have heard of this, but strangely not. Krampus is sure to humble the brat/incorrigible trait lingering in some kids.

    3 years ago

  • Leocardia

    Leocardia says:

    Krampus is well known in the rural parts of Bavaria too. And even in Munich. So if you misbehave on the Oktoberfest -you better watch out for Krampus in december!

    3 years ago

  • HomeStudio

    HomeStudio says:

    Great article!

    3 years ago

  • tsubasafan

    tsubasafan says:

    I love tales of myths and cryptids! Great article. ^^

    3 years ago

  • JealousCat

    JealousCat says:

    Poor polkadotmagpie!! TOO FUNNY! sorry :-) Hmmm.....Krampus...remote Alpine Villages. Interesting. It's SO Tim Burton.

    3 years ago

  • yogiodie

    yogiodie says:

    Hmmmm..........haven't had any coal in a while huh, little girl?

    3 years ago

  • worksofwhimsy

    worksofwhimsy says:

    We were all very good this year at my house. No Krampus, just a shoe full of candy this morning. Happy Saint Nicholas Day!

    3 years ago

  • animalsandicons

    animalsandicons says:

    Krampus makes the Grinch look like the Xmas Fairy!

    3 years ago

  • Cathysjewels

    Cathysjewels says:

    Where was he when my kids were little? We could have used a visit from Krampus every now and again.

    3 years ago

  • IrisEyes

    IrisEyes says:

    I think Polkadotmagpie and I share the same brother! He didn't do that but would have make an excellent Krampus!

    3 years ago

  • RuinBibber

    RuinBibber says:

    Love it!!!

    3 years ago

  • meanoldbags

    meanoldbags says:

    what a downer

    3 years ago

  • BurningHeartArt

    BurningHeartArt says:

    Cool! I love a scary little twist to a warm and fuzzy holiday.

    3 years ago

  • houseofv

    houseofv says:

    I foresee a holy medal in KRAMPUS's honor coming soon to House of luck !

    3 years ago

  • IceCreamCandy

    IceCreamCandy says:

    this is really cute and dark at the same time!

    3 years ago

  • Vintagecabaret

    Vintagecabaret says:

    I love scary things, cool and creepy at the same time!

    3 years ago

  • efratdeutsch

    efratdeutsch says:

    Very interesting! I love the drawing... Scary!

    3 years ago

  • sweetjane

    sweetjane says:

    That was so intersting! I don't know whether to feel bad for the kids of eastern Europe, or employ these tactics in my own home!

    3 years ago

  • pixxxiepieandposie

    pixxxiepieandposie says:

    3 Cheers for the Krampus!! Here's a Christmas creature I can really get behind! What personality, this guy has. I shall have to cook up a perfume, or some such wonderment, on his behalf!!

    3 years ago

  • WoodlandCottage

    WoodlandCottage says:

    As a child in a (very Catholic, very German) family, I loved the Feast of St. Nicholas—which was NOTHING like Krampus! It was, instead, a prelude to Christmas, a whetting of the noel appetite. We always got an apple, an orange, a handful of nuts and a homemade, handmade cookie. The cookie was the highlight, always in an unusual shape with colored icing and dried fruit and candy embellishments. They were made by my Mother, of course, but were magical. I clearly remember the “Christmas Mouse” iced in gray with big, round circular ears and a pointy, triangle face, a cherry nose and raisin eyes. I cannot recall any of us ever getting coal or a switch—though in retrospect, I cannot begin to imagine why! (It certainly was NOT because we were angelic children…) Thinking back, I clearly see my Mother’s handmade talents being passed on to us!

    3 years ago

  • sockmonster

    sockmonster says:

    Thats so fascinating! Christmas is like grimes fairy tale but we are just used to the Disney version.

    3 years ago

  • LittleGreenSquirrel

    LittleGreenSquirrel says:

    Off to go tuck the kids into bed and tell them to prepare themselves to be taken away by a devil character, possibly roasted, maybe whipped before Santa gets to town. They're gonna love this!

    3 years ago

  • eclipse

    eclipse says:

    It just isn't Christmas without casual sadism.

    3 years ago

  • jaipuronline

    jaipuronline says:

    I love this article....Very Interesting....

    3 years ago

  • echoparkmart

    echoparkmart says:

    oooOOOH scary!

    3 years ago

  • strib79

    strib79 says:

    After reading this, I unleashed Krampus on my daughter & had her in tears... I think she's thinking twice about "bad" behavior... Did have to make-up a "Happy Ending"

    3 years ago

  • oldworldprimitives

    oldworldprimitives says:

    Awesome, I didn't expect to see a Krampus feature here! I am a Krampus fan too - check out the Christmas issue of Early American Life magazine from this year, they have a wonderful feature article on Krampus collecting.

    3 years ago

  • accentonvintage

    accentonvintage says:

    Krampus can stay in Europe.

    3 years ago

  • XmasWithKrampus

    XmasWithKrampus says:

    Great article! Good to see the word is spreading :)

    3 years ago

  • JohnBirdsong

    JohnBirdsong says:

    Sweet! I'm wearing my Krampus shirt from missmonster as I type this.

    3 years ago

  • OakhillSilverSupply

    OakhillSilverSupply says:

    I had no Idea!!! Scary!!! I love the "truth be told" ~ twigs and rocks in your stocking :D

    3 years ago

  • thefrogbag

    thefrogbag says:

    This is the best article I've seen here in a long time! Loved reading about this!

    3 years ago

  • Zooguu

    Zooguu says:

    We're in a Krampus Art show in Salem, MA at a shop called The Fool's Mansion. I made a scary Krampus Christmas stocking this year!

    3 years ago

  • kpfarrellstudio

    kpfarrellstudio says:

    Get yer Krampus cards and ornaments here! http://www.etsy.com/listing/60218961/krampus-greeting-card-original-design

    3 years ago

  • CreepyDolls

    CreepyDolls says:

    I love dark Christmas stuff.

    3 years ago

  • TheNightjar

    TheNightjar says:

    wow! mega-yikes!! I had no idea about all of this-looks more akin to day of the dead than Christmas festivities...terrific article teen angster-cheers

    3 years ago

  • JillianMackowiak

    JillianMackowiak says:

    Yikes!! This would have freaked me out to no end as a child!! But a totally interesting story!

    3 years ago

  • PearsonMaron

    PearsonMaron says:

    Krampus is such a jerk. (great article!)

    3 years ago

  • pinupchick

    pinupchick says:

    We have a framed picture of Krampus in our kitchen!

    3 years ago

  • jodieflowers

    jodieflowers says:

    Sounds like a good reason to celebrate everyday until Christmas to me. :)

    3 years ago

  • TenMileCreek

    TenMileCreek says:

    Luv Krampus!

    3 years ago

  • TripleGemini

    TripleGemini says:

    Awesome.

    3 years ago

  • MonstrousIndustry

    MonstrousIndustry says:

    i'm going to be attending a Krampus Masquerade Ball as a prelude to xmas. love krampus.

    3 years ago

  • shellseye

    shellseye says:

    Really interesting article! I've heard the name Krampus, but didn't really know what he was.

    3 years ago

  • LoveBeachDays

    LoveBeachDays says:

    Wicked crazy

    3 years ago

  • kburrowsquinn

    kburrowsquinn says:

    My mother is from Austria, and when I asked if this was real, she was all "oh, yah!" and then told of chains and switches and how he would stuff misbehaving children in a sack, especially the girls. Scheisse! I'm so glad she left that tradition behind when she moved to the states.

    3 years ago

  • ErstwhileEndeavors

    ErstwhileEndeavors says:

    Very cool. Thanks for posting:)

    3 years ago

  • HappyHarpy

    HappyHarpy says:

    Wow! That's so similar to the Black Peter stories I was told as a child. Scared me into being good for an evening, that's for sure!

    3 years ago

  • LeatherheadOriginals

    LeatherheadOriginals says:

    This is SO COOL!!! Halloween is my favorite holiday, and Christmas seems too Disney-fied! Great feeling to learn something new about Xmas traditions that are very un-Xmas like! Krampus really rocks!!! And being Capricorn, Krampus' goat features stand out from the reindeer and snowmen populating this time of year!

    3 years ago

  • ElasVintageFinds

    ElasVintageFinds says:

    Oh my gosh! I just watched some attacks on YouTube. That's scarry stuff! But I guess it's all in good fun and it's sure to keeps all children on the straigh and narrow. Good read, I love learning. :)

    3 years ago

  • sparrowsalvage

    sparrowsalvage says:

    I saw a short film waaaay back in the early 90s about St.Nick and Krampus, was really good- of course it was German and I couldn't understand it at all, but there was pagan stuff and then santa done got crucified, and through all the Peter Greenaway style theatrics I got the jist. I wish I could remember what it was called!

    3 years ago

  • AtomicStitches

    AtomicStitches says:

    Oh cool! Every year I want to make Krampus items for my store but I run out of time =/ Perhaps next year will be the year. Great post

    3 years ago

  • LeatherheadOriginals

    LeatherheadOriginals says:

    That German film sounds cool! I can get behind this Krampus thing! A little Xmas fright would be good for once!

    3 years ago

  • flabbergastbanana

    flabbergastbanana says:

    I never heard of this before~ Well, that's totally disturbing! Glad it didn't become popular outside of Austria and Hungary... wtf lol very interesting tho

    3 years ago

  • crystalworld

    crystalworld says:

    Funny that Christmas has such a dark side - I prefer the 'sugar plum fairies'

    3 years ago

  • OhFaro

    OhFaro says:

    I've read about this, it's so outside the normal Christmas story. Intriguing tale.

    3 years ago

  • writtenmind

    writtenmind says:

    dear lord, that scared the living bejesus outta me! im gonna have nightmares

    3 years ago

  • kimonomomo

    kimonomomo says:

    Excellent article! I'm glad you posted this. The David Sedaris Dutch Christmas story is definitely worth a read or listen (I have it on MP3). It makes the US version of the holiday sound positively tame and boring!

    3 years ago

  • ClareBare

    ClareBare says:

    wow, so creepy- i love it!!

    3 years ago

  • ljenner

    ljenner says:

    Hee, I've always been intrigued by Krampus :) Interesting article!

    3 years ago

  • theroyal

    theroyal says:

    little bit creepy. hahaha

    3 years ago

  • Fibrillaria

    Fibrillaria says:

    Merry Krampus from Hungary!!

    3 years ago

  • FaithRain

    FaithRain says:

    Food for my dark side!!! I LOVE it!!! Thank you!!!

    3 years ago

  • whitemagic

    whitemagic says:

    Krampus is my kinda guy!

    3 years ago

  • whitemagic

    whitemagic says:

    Krampus is my kinda guy!

    3 years ago

  • iowajewel

    iowajewel says:

    i am making sure i stay inside this christmas season and not opening my door to anyone or should i say anything!!!!!

    3 years ago

  • punkchica

    punkchica says:

    Wow-- Creepy!! Didnt know this side of Christmas at all.

    3 years ago

  • LisamariesPiece

    LisamariesPiece says:

    Great blog! I learned about this on the TV show "Supernatural". Pretty interesting, and scary....

    3 years ago

  • tigersanddragons

    tigersanddragons says:

    It's like adding a bit of Halloween to Christmas. Wasn't there an episode of Supernatural with a storyline about Krampus?

    3 years ago

  • ChayaGallery

    ChayaGallery says:

    Now I've learn't something - this guy is terrifying ! Interesting though !

    3 years ago

  • SinisterConcept

    SinisterConcept says:

    Check out my Krampus Sheets from my Aunt's collection. http://www.etsy.com/listing/62800198/devil-demon-krampus-collage-sheet-glass?ga_search_query=krampus&ga_search_type=user_shop_ttt_id_5434007

    3 years ago

  • ikabags

    ikabags says:

    :)) This is awesome and hilarious.

    3 years ago

  • MotherMacabre

    MotherMacabre says:

    Excellent article! Just what I needed to make Christmas go down a little easier. I still have a Krampus card sent to me by an Austrian pen pal years ago. Thank you for the reminder.

    3 years ago

  • westbournegrove

    westbournegrove says:

    grotesque but so intriguing! I want to learn more about this now! Thank you! Incredible feature as always!

    3 years ago

  • redemptionart

    redemptionart says:

    yikes, and i thought just making it to the naughty list was punishment enough....i guess the devil is in the details...of being naughty that is!

    3 years ago

  • KikiLaRu

    KikiLaRu says:

    I live in Austria where Krampus is still alive and well. Unfortunately. I know a few elderly people who were really traumatized by Krampus visits as children. Parents used to actually hire someone dressed as Krampus to come and punish/spank their children at Krampus time.

    3 years ago

  • ecstewart

    ecstewart says:

    Wow! Finally a reason to love the holidays! ;D

    3 years ago

  • tristanne

    tristanne says:

    This article is giving me flashbacks to my childhood. Though I grew up in Australia, my parents and grandparents were heavily involved with a local club for Czech immigrants. Every year my cousins and I would get dragged to the yearly Christmas party put on by the Czech club. At some unexpected point in the party, a guy dressed as Krampus would spring out from behind a door and run about terrorising all the children in the room. The dramatisation ended with St Nicholas turning up, banishing the devil and handing out presents and lollies. What never ended was my paralysing fear of Krampus. It kind of ruined Christmas for me.

    3 years ago

  • Aya1gou

    Aya1gou says:

    Great article! There is very similar stuff here in Japan too, called Namahage.

    3 years ago

  • MrsFrankeeStein

    MrsFrankeeStein says:

    I grew up in the US, but I am currently living in Austria with my fiance. I experienced this krampus ordeal the other day, I even got hit by one of the demons. It was really hillarious to watch these little kids tease the monsters only to be chased down. Such a fun tradition. Also the masks are INCREDIBLE. They are all carved from wood and have such detail. Its amazing really.

    3 years ago

  • AllureByU

    AllureByU says:

    Interesting!!

    3 years ago

  • YouWoodLikeThis

    YouWoodLikeThis says:

    great article, thanks. Oh, look there behind you

    3 years ago

  • BabelfishSoaps

    BabelfishSoaps says:

    This is just what some people need these days! :P

    3 years ago

  • BizzieLizzie

    BizzieLizzie says:

    TeenAngester - you've outdone yourself! By far the most bizarre post I've ever read! Glad he's not on of our traditions!

    3 years ago

  • FemmEmasculation
  • MaryZoom

    MaryZoom says:

    Yikes!!!

    3 years ago

  • YacsPocket

    YacsPocket says:

    Very interesting! Bad children in a basket (a barrel? a tub?)... it's traumatic!

    3 years ago

  • mrhudon

    mrhudon says:

    I never knew! Great article.

    3 years ago

  • susissatchels

    susissatchels says:

    I was born and raised in Southern Germany, remember St. Nicholaus Day well, but am not familiar with Krampus which must be strictly an Austrian/Hungarian character. I have to check this out further. I just love these semi-pagan traditions! Great story!

    3 years ago

  • jessicawelch

    jessicawelch says:

    oh... my...

    3 years ago

  • Reductions

    Reductions says:

    I was just talking about this tradition with my son. Spooky Christmas.

    3 years ago

  • HoldTheWire

    HoldTheWire says:

    Fascinating! Those old drawings are amazing. I watched one of the videos and those guys are pretty scary. Very cool post!

    3 years ago

  • originalsbyannemarie

    originalsbyannemarie says:

    Never heard of this although grew up in Germany. Even when I lived in Munich and Garmisch for a few years - never heard of this devil.

    3 years ago

  • trinityrocks

    trinityrocks says:

    wICKED!

    3 years ago

  • tigerbee

    tigerbee says:

    Love it, love the folklore, traditional history behind the holidays. Everyone should know all the little symbols behind what they're celebrating. Scary ol Krampus!

    3 years ago

  • CWPoppets

    CWPoppets says:

    I've made a Krampus as a polymer clay figure last year. Thought of keeping my four year old in check with him, but he sold pretty fast (Krampus that is!). Looks like I have to make a new one. LOL http://www.etsy.com/transaction/26380399

    3 years ago

  • princessdoodlebeans

    princessdoodlebeans says:

    I'll be good! I'll be good!!! I'll be GOOOOD!!! Jeez. That's enough to give any kid nightmares for life.

    3 years ago

  • NakedRatDestash

    NakedRatDestash says:

    I've never heard of Krampus. This article is excellent!

    3 years ago

  • Thelimeshop

    Thelimeshop says:

    apparently there was a krampus art festival in toronto last week. creepy...

    3 years ago

  • nenloth

    nenloth says:

    Ahhh! The kids in the basket! The kids in the basket!

    3 years ago

  • ekra

    ekra says:

    Nothing like a little tough love from Krampus to make the season bright! Thanks for the great article and collection of haunting images!

    3 years ago

  • thestapeliacompany

    thestapeliacompany says:

    Krampus is awesome. He blows Elf On a Shelf out of the water. Love it.

    3 years ago

  • VelveteenHabbit

    VelveteenHabbit says:

    Krampus-never heard of him! Thanks for enlightening me and maybe a little fear of authority is not all bad.....naughty? No way! Better be nice!!!

    3 years ago

  • sophiascooter

    sophiascooter says:

    You better be good kiddies coz Krampus will get youuuu. That is creepy and would scare the toughest of kids...hmmm not a bad idea LOL!

    3 years ago

  • CrocheTrend

    CrocheTrend says:

    I have seen Krampus and saint Nicholas on December 6th every year when I was a child in Hungary. I have nice memories about them, not as scary as it sounds :) Maybe because I wasn't naughty :D Thank you for sharing this side of Christmas with all of the etsians around the world.

    3 years ago

  • jaipuronline

    jaipuronline says:

    I love this article....Very Interesting....

    3 years ago

  • XXXLittWear

    XXXLittWear says:

    So that's why my Krampus cards started selling all of a sudden! lol... It's great that such a well written article can generate business for us!

    3 years ago

  • jewelrybyjackie

    jewelrybyjackie says:

    Wow! I have never heard of such a thing! How traumatic it must be! Maybe the children of the Alpine villages are a heartier breed!! : )

    3 years ago

  • vantiani

    vantiani says:

    Oh wow! Awesome! Can't wait to share this with my friends! Yay!

    3 years ago

  • chinmayo

    chinmayo says:

    Christmas underbelly !

    3 years ago

  • prillarguri1976

    prillarguri1976 says:

    I lived in fear of December 13th, it is Lissenatt. In Norway children were told if they didn't behave they would be taken away by the evil old Lisse. She was a demon who came down the chimney and stole bad children. All Christmas preparations had to be completed by this night as well. She would harm anyone she found working on her night. This used to be the winter solstice way back when. Now I get to pass on the story to my children. He He He!!!

    3 years ago

  • stellasavestheday

    stellasavestheday says:

    This is fascinating!! Thanks so much for the great story!

    3 years ago

  • KaitlinandKylies

    KaitlinandKylies says:

    I LOVED this article! My mother is Hungarian, and we always celebrated with the candy in the boot on the 6th. I researched the tradition further when I had my own children, and the Krampus was a bit shocking but mostly hilareous! Thanks for posting this.:)

    3 years ago

  • elisemahan

    elisemahan says:

    Fabulous article and fabulous artwork to match, thanks for the good read!

    3 years ago

  • HulaGirl1922

    HulaGirl1922 says:

    ho..ho..ho....here comes jolly ole krampus... what a wonderful read indeed :) thanks! merry holidays to all and to all a good day ♥

    3 years ago

  • SerendipiT

    SerendipiT says:

    I'd never heard of this, but it's really cool! I wish I had known about this when my daughter was young. Although even as a teenager I bet it would be hilarious to dress up as a goat devil and scare the pants off of her just before christmas...

    3 years ago

  • thevintagequeendom

    thevintagequeendom says:

    hey, that was very funny to read, never got an outside-look on krampus before, since i'm from austria and know this guy very well (even better than st. nikolaus..erm...if you know what i mean ;) ). but somehow we always manage to survive december 5th without our hearts being part of a bbq, so don't be too scared! :)

    3 years ago

  • amoronia

    amoronia says:

    You know what else would be intersting? A feature on how the Mediterranean countries celebrate Christmas.

    3 years ago

  • stellaranae

    stellaranae says:

    very interesting article, never heard of him, looks like this sparked alot of different feelings, happy to have a lesson and learn something new!~

    3 years ago

  • corduroy

    corduroy says:

    Haha AWESOME treasury! My friend Chris in South Carolina crashed last Sunday's town Christmas parade in his amazing handmade Krampus costume: http://bit.ly/eR8mMC

    3 years ago

  • jargonhead

    jargonhead says:

    Krampus for some, being forced to eat my grandmother's yam and marshmallow casserole for me ;) Awesome article, thanks for sharing!

    3 years ago

  • ohbabydotcom

    ohbabydotcom says:

    little creepy

    3 years ago

  • BloodstoneBay

    BloodstoneBay says:

    I kind of like those guys! Excellent article.

    3 years ago

  • SOLOJEWELLERY

    SOLOJEWELLERY says:

    Thoroughly enjoyed reading this article. Very interesting...and wonderful, yet disturbing pictures. Thank-you :)

    3 years ago

  • strawberryluna

    strawberryluna says:

    Krampus is TERRIFYING and I've loved him, the idea of him anyway, ever since an artist friend of mine told me all about it. So old-fashioned and mythic, very cool to see Etsy do a little piece on Krampus.

    3 years ago

  • throughthelooking

    throughthelooking says:

    Like some others, I've heard of Black Peter before, and I thought *that* part of the "darker side of Christmas" was pretty cool... this is downright scary! That's certainly some motivation to be good, though.

    3 years ago

  • ARTOFME

    ARTOFME says:

    This is awesome.

    3 years ago

  • LeslieGallery

    LeslieGallery says:

    scary and fun...hmmm adding to the idea list

    3 years ago

  • fanfreluxe

    fanfreluxe says:

    Scary but interesting!

    3 years ago

  • pulpsushi

    pulpsushi says:

    I love the story of Krampus. :)

    3 years ago

  • e13e14mccord

    e13e14mccord says:

    When we lived in Germany we use to celebrate St. Nicholaus Tag. Because my brother and I were good and bad, we received the switches from Krampus and the candy and toys from St. Nicholaus. I always loved this and we still celebrate it here in the states in our family. Thank you for telling the story and bringing back great memories from Germany.

    3 years ago

  • PoisonApplePotions

    PoisonApplePotions says:

    Oh my! I love the dark side :)

    3 years ago

  • HandmadeHandsome

    HandmadeHandsome says:

    Interesting. We just celebrated Sinterklaas (=St Nicholaus) with gifts on the night before his brithday on the 6th of December. You can read more about this here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sinterklaas. Though children used to be threatened to be taken away back to Spain with him, it has never been as scary as on the pictures you show us here. Luckily. :)

    3 years ago

  • HeatherLucille

    HeatherLucille says:

    Krampus gauntlet = new holiday tradition.

    3 years ago

  • LoveButtons

    LoveButtons says:

    Eeek! I'll be good, I promise =:o

    3 years ago

  • 1cupCotton

    1cupCotton says:

    I hadn't heard of this until this year. Very interesting and scary. If I knew about this as a child I would never have slept.

    3 years ago

  • christianmazza

    christianmazza says:

    Great post Alison.

    3 years ago

  • WoolnFelt

    WoolnFelt says:

    great now I cant sleep

    3 years ago

  • XmasWithKrampus

    XmasWithKrampus says:

    Check out the Vancouver band 'les Barons' song about Krampus http://www.lesbarons.net/xmaswithkrampus/xmaswithkrampussong.html

    3 years ago

  • kawaiiktsch

    kawaiiktsch says:

    very interesting! Great article!

    3 years ago

  • jennyleefowler

    jennyleefowler says:

    In Rhinebeck, NY we celebrate the Sinterklaas tradition and "grumpus" roam the streets (as well as jugglers and musicians amid the festivities: http://www.sinterklaasrhinebeck.com/. We've been making our own holiday cards for the last decade and a half with linocuts, paper cuttings, photographs. It was a surprise to learn that my husband's grandparents had the same tradition when we inherited their midcentury hand-carved block prints.

    3 years ago

  • adamfonos

    adamfonos says:

    I'll paint krampus on canvas , and perhaps when krampus visit me , saw krampus on canvas , will scare him back to the universe! LOL , by the way, i love mythical stories.i was wondering, does santa claus has something to do with the 12 olympians?

    3 years ago

  • camamiel

    camamiel says:

    I loved to hear about Krampus. And the illustrations are amazing!

    3 years ago

  • MrsFrankeeStein

    MrsFrankeeStein says:

    I went to another krampus fest thinggy last night. I was attacked by 3 of them at once. I walked away with my hair all messy (I was grabbed by my hood and dragged away), I had coal all over my face from one of them grabbing it, and my legs were stinging (and are now bruised and quite tender) from being beat with cowtails and sticks. It was scary but oh so fun!

    3 years ago

  • TanjaDesign

    TanjaDesign says:

    We still have Krampus trdition here in Croatia, but nothing so scary. Krampus accompanies St. Nicolas where ever he goes, makes some noise, and kids get a small branch of birch painted in gold (as a reminder from Krampus) together with some sweets and toys from St. Nicholas.

    3 years ago

  • mykobocek

    mykobocek says:

    Great post! I had to laugh at your mention of getting coal and twigs. I too, one year, got a wrapped tree switch and some coal in my stocking. My father thought this very hilarious...I remember my mother didn't look quite so amused...:)

    3 years ago

  • moonstr

    moonstr says:

    i love the naughty side:D

    3 years ago

  • PaperPicker

    PaperPicker says:

    thanks for the information. i had no idea that this character even existed. i really enjoyed reading the history behind this scary looking creature.

    3 years ago

  • dailyportrait

    dailyportrait says:

    Wow. And I thought that our Dutch "Black Petes" were scary! Brilliant article, definitely going to read up more on this. Thanks! :D

    3 years ago

  • Kitchie

    Kitchie says:

    Krumpus, or as my family knows him Klaubauf, was introduced to me at a very young age by my great grandfather. It's almost a rite of passage to be scared by the story of the Klaubauf. And now this tradition is very dear to me, as weird as that may seem. I'm glad the stories of Klaubuaf are spreading!

    3 years ago

  • jaipuronline

    jaipuronline says:

    I love this article......

    3 years ago

  • keelhauledmike

    keelhauledmike says:

    Thank you that was a great read

    3 years ago

  • basilborn

    basilborn says:

    " let them fear me as long as they obey me " -Tiberius/Caligula ... I Don't particularly agree with this dictum, but I totally appreciate the fun I had with this inside look into the dark side of the otherwise merry :) Thank you this was great :)

    3 years ago

  • rosi3

    rosi3 says:

    i was kidnapped by the great krampus when i was little. now i make demented jewelry.

    3 years ago

  • laTeefahDoLLs1898

    laTeefahDoLLs1898 says:

    ***...meRry KraMpus*** http://www.etsy.com/listing/58321162/krampus-reliquary-bustkalfu-carrefour

    3 years ago

  • seasonsart1031

    seasonsart1031 says:

    A wonderful tale and a reminder for the Naughty!

    3 years ago

  • beadenchanting

    beadenchanting says:

    wouldn't it be cool to have your picture taken with Krampus at the mall, as an alternative to the traditional Santa? you'd have to run the krampus gauntlet first, and then, instead of a candy cane after sitting on his lap, he gives you a shot of schnapps,....i might be on to something here,.....

    3 years ago

  • tortillagirl

    tortillagirl says:

    Krampus makes the Grinch look like small potatoes. If we had these guys running around SoCal during Christmastime when I was growing up, my siblings and I would have been a lot nicer to each other.

    3 years ago

  • LifeIsRosey

    LifeIsRosey says:

    Wow! Thanks for this interesting aritcle... :) Sarah Jane

    3 years ago

  • jewellerytreasures

    jewellerytreasures says:

    interesting read what a great if a little over the top way to make children behave at christmas!!

    3 years ago

  • SpaceAgeCeramix

    SpaceAgeCeramix says:

    Kind of dark and creepy but unbelievably fun.

    3 years ago

  • mudcity

    mudcity says:

    I am so thankful for Santa!;)

    3 years ago

  • SisterMaryTopiary

    SisterMaryTopiary says:

    As a twenty-something, I was set upon by a gang of drunken Krampus followers wielding switches and branches on the streets of Salzburg, Austria. I became convinced that a sadistic streak runs deep in Alpine culture. It was terrifying. I was not amused.

    3 years ago

  • CrossExtreme

    CrossExtreme says:

    I am so subjecting my future children to this.

    2 years ago

  • rawjawbone

    rawjawbone says:

    Awesome!! We need a real-life Krampus.

    2 years ago

  • briannalopez

    Brianna Lopez says:

    Nothing sets your kids right quite like the fear of being burned in the fiery pits of hell by a goat man.

    1 year ago

  • neltner2

    Rick Neltner from Neltner says:

    This is another interested Krampus approach. http://krampus.curiosity360.com

    126 days ago

  • brebird

    brebird from brebird says:

    Great article. I think Krampus is having a real come-back this year!

    125 days ago