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Krampus: The Darker Side of Christmas

Dec 6, 2010

by Alison Feldmann

Etsy.com handmade and vintage goods

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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?

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235 comments

  • JAdamsDesigns

    JAdamsDesigns said 5 years ago

    Awesome! LOL

  • chartreuseandhoney

    chartreuseandhoney said 5 years ago

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

  • SpottedFish

    SpottedFish said 5 years ago

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

  • NotGrandmasVintage

    NotGrandmasVintage said 5 years ago

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

  • SpringColors

    SpringColors said 5 years ago

    that's really interesting and I love the fiery devils

  • eeksten

    eeksten said 5 years ago

    Aww, I love Krampus! Thanks for posting this!

  • DayDreamerVintage

    DayDreamerVintage said 5 years ago

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

  • oguerrero

    oguerrero said 5 years ago

    Wow, pretty scary.

  • pocketcarnival

    pocketcarnival said 5 years ago

    Yikes! Krampus is enough to turn anyone off Christmas!

  • commoncreativ

    commoncreativ said 5 years ago

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

  • riskybeads

    riskybeads said 5 years ago

    omg, that were skerry.

  • suchprettycolors

    suchprettycolors said 5 years ago

    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!

  • Parachute425

    Parachute425 said 5 years ago

    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.

  • BingoBox

    BingoBox said 5 years ago

    Evil Capricorni-claws !!

  • Ayun

    Ayun said 5 years ago

    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.

  • VivaGailBeads

    VivaGailBeads said 5 years ago

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

  • jfsd

    jfsd said 5 years ago

    This should be a worldwide tradition!!!

  • TerraCottaTextiles

    TerraCottaTextiles said 5 years ago

    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!

  • MishaMishap

    MishaMishap said 5 years ago

    I love this article!

  • GrammiesInspirations

    GrammiesInspirations said 5 years ago

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

  • voodoopastry

    voodoopastry said 5 years ago

    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.

  • Monkeyville

    Monkeyville said 5 years ago

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

  • vistahsoap

    vistahsoap said 5 years ago

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

  • calloohcallay

    calloohcallay said 5 years ago

    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).

  • aynart

    aynart said 5 years ago

    yowza! very cool!

  • PoleStar

    PoleStar said 5 years ago

    This is my new discipline method.

  • TheNikiProject

    TheNikiProject said 5 years ago

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

  • HanaKiStudio

    HanaKiStudio said 5 years ago

    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 .

  • sydandmarc

    sydandmarc said 5 years ago

    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

  • OneClayBead

    OneClayBead said 5 years ago

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

  • tippleandsnack

    tippleandsnack said 5 years ago

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

  • myvintagecrush

    myvintagecrush said 5 years ago

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

  • carolinaj

    carolinaj said 5 years ago

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

  • LittleWrenPottery

    LittleWrenPottery said 5 years ago

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

  • candacejean

    candacejean said 5 years ago

    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..

  • kadydesigns

    kadydesigns said 5 years ago

    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!!!

  • candacejean

    candacejean said 5 years ago

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

  • LegendaryTigerHero

    LegendaryTigerHero said 5 years ago

    I want to start a metal band with the Krampus!

  • LegendaryTigerHero

    LegendaryTigerHero said 5 years ago

    BTW- Happy Sinterklaas!

  • PattiTrostle

    PattiTrostle said 5 years ago

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

  • labellefairy

    labellefairy said 5 years ago

    wow!

  • paramountvintage

    paramountvintage said 5 years ago

    great article and images!

  • ginaregina

    ginaregina said 5 years ago

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

  • VintageMarketPlace

    VintageMarketPlace said 5 years ago

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

  • mudpuppy

    mudpuppy said 5 years ago

    LOVE it!

  • crankbunny

    crankbunny said 5 years ago

    yay for Krampus!

  • Mclovebuddy

    Mclovebuddy said 5 years ago

    hmmm, the pre-industrial grinch on steroids.

  • BrassCatStudios

    BrassCatStudios said 5 years ago

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

  • TheImmortalKey

    TheImmortalKey said 5 years ago

    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.

  • LaurelDChristian

    LaurelDChristian said 5 years ago

    wicked crazy great...

  • doters

    doters said 5 years ago

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

  • strib79

    strib79 said 5 years ago

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

  • heatherfuture

    heatherfuture said 5 years ago

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

  • artofjane

    artofjane said 5 years ago

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

  • FunkyFriendsFactory

    FunkyFriendsFactory said 5 years ago

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

  • blueskyclouds

    blueskyclouds said 5 years ago

    Wow!!!!

  • TwoPackRats

    TwoPackRats said 5 years ago

    Yikes!

  • PatinaArtsAlchemy

    PatinaArtsAlchemy said 5 years ago

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

  • birdie1

    birdie1 said 5 years ago

    How charming.

  • polkadotmagpie

    polkadotmagpie said 5 years ago

    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!

  • RubySkeleton

    RubySkeleton said 5 years ago

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

  • taraweeks214

    taraweeks214 said 5 years ago

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

  • shop1848

    shop1848 said 5 years ago

    Super cool!!

  • MutantAngel

    MutantAngel said 5 years ago

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

  • breadandroses2

    breadandroses2 said 5 years ago

    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.

  • Leocardia

    Leocardia said 5 years ago

    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!

  • HomeStudio

    HomeStudio said 5 years ago

    Great article!

  • tsubasafan

    tsubasafan said 5 years ago

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

  • JealousCat

    JealousCat said 5 years ago

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

  • yogiodie

    yogiodie said 5 years ago

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

  • worksofwhimsy

    worksofwhimsy said 5 years ago

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

  • animalsandicons

    animalsandicons said 5 years ago

    Krampus makes the Grinch look like the Xmas Fairy!

  • Cathysjewels

    Cathysjewels said 5 years ago

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

  • IrisEyes

    IrisEyes said 5 years ago

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

  • RuinBibber

    RuinBibber said 5 years ago

    Love it!!!

  • meanoldbags

    meanoldbags said 5 years ago

    what a downer

  • BurningHeartArt

    BurningHeartArt said 5 years ago

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

  • houseofv

    houseofv said 5 years ago

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

  • IceCreamCandy

    IceCreamCandy said 5 years ago

    this is really cute and dark at the same time!

  • Vintagecabaret

    Vintagecabaret said 5 years ago

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

  • efratdeutsch

    efratdeutsch said 5 years ago

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

  • sweetjane

    sweetjane said 5 years ago

    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!

  • pixxxiepieandposie

    pixxxiepieandposie said 5 years ago

    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!!

  • WoodlandCottage

    WoodlandCottage said 5 years ago

    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!

  • sockmonster

    sockmonster said 5 years ago

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

  • LittleGreenSquirrel

    LittleGreenSquirrel said 5 years ago

    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!

  • eclipse

    eclipse said 5 years ago

    It just isn't Christmas without casual sadism.

  • jaipuronline

    jaipuronline said 5 years ago

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

  • echoparkmart

    echoparkmart said 5 years ago

    oooOOOH scary!

  • strib79

    strib79 said 5 years ago

    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"

  • oldworldprimitives

    oldworldprimitives said 5 years ago

    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.

  • accentonvintage

    accentonvintage said 5 years ago

    Krampus can stay in Europe.

  • XmasWithKrampus

    XmasWithKrampus said 5 years ago

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

  • JohnBirdsong

    JohnBirdsong said 5 years ago

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

  • OakhillSilverSupply

    OakhillSilverSupply said 5 years ago

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

  • thefrogbag

    thefrogbag said 5 years ago

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

  • Zooguu

    Zooguu said 5 years ago

    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!

  • kpfarrellstudio

    kpfarrellstudio said 5 years ago

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

  • CreepyDolls

    CreepyDolls said 5 years ago

    I love dark Christmas stuff.

  • TheNightjar

    TheNightjar said 5 years ago

    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

  • JillianMackowiak

    JillianMackowiak said 5 years ago

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

  • PearsonMaron

    PearsonMaron said 5 years ago

    Krampus is such a jerk. (great article!)

  • pinupchick

    pinupchick said 5 years ago

    We have a framed picture of Krampus in our kitchen!

  • jodieflowers

    jodieflowers said 5 years ago

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

  • TenMileCreek

    TenMileCreek said 5 years ago

    Luv Krampus!

  • TripleGemini

    TripleGemini said 5 years ago

    Awesome.

  • MonstrousIndustry

    MonstrousIndustry said 5 years ago

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

  • shellseye

    shellseye said 5 years ago

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

  • LoveBeachDays

    LoveBeachDays said 5 years ago

    Wicked crazy

  • kburrowsquinn

    kburrowsquinn said 5 years ago

    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.

  • ErstwhileEndeavors

    ErstwhileEndeavors said 5 years ago

    Very cool. Thanks for posting:)

  • HappyHarpy

    HappyHarpy said 5 years ago

    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!

  • LeatherheadOriginals

    LeatherheadOriginals said 5 years ago

    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!

  • ElasVintageFinds

    ElasVintageFinds said 5 years ago

    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. :)

  • sparrowsalvage

    sparrowsalvage said 5 years ago

    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!

  • AtomicStitches

    AtomicStitches said 5 years ago

    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

  • LeatherheadOriginals

    LeatherheadOriginals said 5 years ago

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

  • flabbergastbanana

    flabbergastbanana said 5 years ago

    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

  • crystalworld

    crystalworld said 5 years ago

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

  • OhFaro

    OhFaro said 5 years ago

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

  • writtenmind

    writtenmind said 5 years ago

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

  • kimonomomo

    kimonomomo said 5 years ago

    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!

  • ClareBare

    ClareBare said 5 years ago

    wow, so creepy- i love it!!

  • ljenner

    ljenner said 5 years ago

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

  • theroyal

    theroyal said 5 years ago

    little bit creepy. hahaha

  • Fibrillaria

    Fibrillaria said 5 years ago

    Merry Krampus from Hungary!!

  • FaithRain

    FaithRain said 5 years ago

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

  • whitemagic

    whitemagic said 5 years ago

    Krampus is my kinda guy!

  • whitemagic

    whitemagic said 5 years ago

    Krampus is my kinda guy!

  • iowajewel

    iowajewel said 5 years ago

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

  • punkchica

    punkchica said 5 years ago

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

  • LisamariesPiece

    LisamariesPiece said 5 years ago

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

  • tigersanddragons

    tigersanddragons said 5 years ago

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

  • ChayaGallery

    ChayaGallery said 5 years ago

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

  • SinisterConcept

    SinisterConcept said 5 years ago

    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

  • ikabags

    ikabags said 5 years ago

    :)) This is awesome and hilarious.

  • MotherMacabre

    MotherMacabre said 5 years ago

    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.

  • westbournegrove

    westbournegrove said 5 years ago

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

  • redemptionart

    redemptionart said 5 years ago

    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!

  • KikiLaRu

    KikiLaRu said 5 years ago

    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.

  • ecstewart

    ecstewart said 5 years ago

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

  • tristanne

    tristanne said 5 years ago

    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.

  • Aya1gou

    Aya1gou said 5 years ago

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

  • MrsFrankeeStein

    MrsFrankeeStein said 5 years ago

    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.

  • AllureByU

    AllureByU said 5 years ago

    Interesting!!

  • YouWoodLikeThis

    YouWoodLikeThis said 5 years ago

    great article, thanks. Oh, look there behind you

  • BabelfishSoaps

    BabelfishSoaps said 5 years ago

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

  • BizzieLizzie

    BizzieLizzie said 5 years ago

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

  • FemmEmasculation

    FemmEmasculation said 5 years ago

    ♥

  • MaryZoom

    MaryZoom said 5 years ago

    Yikes!!!

  • YacsPocket

    YacsPocket said 5 years ago

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

  • mrhudon

    mrhudon said 5 years ago

    I never knew! Great article.

  • susissatchels

    susissatchels said 5 years ago

    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!

  • jessicawelch

    jessicawelch said 5 years ago

    oh... my...

  • Reductions

    Reductions said 5 years ago

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

  • HoldTheWire

    HoldTheWire said 5 years ago

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

  • originalsbyannemarie

    originalsbyannemarie said 5 years ago

    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.

  • trinityrocks

    trinityrocks said 5 years ago

    wICKED!

  • tigerbee

    tigerbee said 5 years ago

    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!

  • CWPoppets

    CWPoppets said 5 years ago

    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

  • princessdoodlebeans

    princessdoodlebeans said 5 years ago

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

  • NakedRatDestash

    NakedRatDestash said 5 years ago

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

  • Thelimeshop

    Thelimeshop said 5 years ago

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

  • nenloth

    nenloth said 5 years ago

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

  • ekra

    ekra said 5 years ago

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

  • thestapeliacompany

    thestapeliacompany said 5 years ago

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

  • VelveteenHabbit

    VelveteenHabbit said 5 years ago

    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!!!

  • sophiascooter

    sophiascooter said 5 years ago

    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!

  • CrocheTrend

    CrocheTrend said 5 years ago

    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.

  • jaipuronline

    jaipuronline said 5 years ago

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

  • XXXLittWear

    XXXLittWear said 5 years ago

    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!

  • jewelrybyjackie

    jewelrybyjackie said 5 years ago

    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!! : )

  • vantiani

    vantiani said 5 years ago

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

  • chinmayo

    chinmayo said 5 years ago

    Christmas underbelly !

  • prillarguri1976

    prillarguri1976 said 5 years ago

    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!!!

  • stellasavestheday

    stellasavestheday said 5 years ago

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

  • KaitlinandKylies

    KaitlinandKylies said 5 years ago

    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.:)

  • elisemahan

    elisemahan said 5 years ago

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

  • HulaGirl1922

    HulaGirl1922 said 5 years ago

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

  • SerendipiT

    SerendipiT said 5 years ago

    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...

  • thevintagequeendom

    thevintagequeendom said 5 years ago

    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! :)

  • amoronia

    amoronia said 5 years ago

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

  • stellaranae

    stellaranae said 5 years ago

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

  • corduroy

    corduroy said 5 years ago

    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

  • jargonhead

    jargonhead said 5 years ago

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

  • ohbabydotcom

    ohbabydotcom said 5 years ago

    little creepy

  • BloodstoneBay

    BloodstoneBay said 5 years ago

    I kind of like those guys! Excellent article.

  • SOLOJEWELLERY

    SOLOJEWELLERY said 5 years ago

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

  • strawberryluna

    strawberryluna said 5 years ago

    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.

  • throughthelooking

    throughthelooking said 5 years ago

    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.

  • ARTOFME

    ARTOFME said 5 years ago

    This is awesome.

  • LeslieGallery

    LeslieGallery said 5 years ago

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

  • fanfreluxe

    fanfreluxe said 5 years ago

    Scary but interesting!

  • pulpsushi

    pulpsushi said 5 years ago

    I love the story of Krampus. :)

  • e13e14mccord

    e13e14mccord said 5 years ago

    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.

  • PoisonApplePotions

    PoisonApplePotions said 5 years ago

    Oh my! I love the dark side :)

  • HandmadeHandsome

    HandmadeHandsome said 5 years ago

    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. :)

  • HeatherLucille

    HeatherLucille said 5 years ago

    Krampus gauntlet = new holiday tradition.

  • LoveButtons

    LoveButtons said 5 years ago

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

  • 1cupCotton

    1cupCotton said 5 years ago

    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.

  • christianmazza

    christianmazza said 5 years ago

    Great post Alison.

  • WoolnFelt

    WoolnFelt said 5 years ago

    great now I cant sleep

  • XmasWithKrampus

    XmasWithKrampus said 5 years ago

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

  • kawaiiktsch

    kawaiiktsch said 5 years ago

    very interesting! Great article!

  • jennyleefowler

    jennyleefowler said 5 years ago

    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.

  • adamfonos

    adamfonos said 5 years ago

    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?

  • camamiel

    camamiel said 5 years ago

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

  • MrsFrankeeStein

    MrsFrankeeStein said 5 years ago

    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!

  • TanjaDesign

    TanjaDesign said 5 years ago

    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.

  • mykobocek

    mykobocek said 5 years ago

    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...:)

  • moonstr

    moonstr said 5 years ago

    i love the naughty side:D

  • PaperPicker

    PaperPicker said 5 years ago

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

  • dailyportrait

    dailyportrait said 5 years ago

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

  • Kitchie

    Kitchie said 5 years ago

    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!

  • jaipuronline

    jaipuronline said 5 years ago

    I love this article......

  • keelhauledmike

    keelhauledmike said 5 years ago

    Thank you that was a great read

  • basilborn

    basilborn said 5 years ago

    " 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 :)

  • rosi3

    rosi3 said 5 years ago

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

  • laTeefahDoLLs1898

    laTeefahDoLLs1898 said 5 years ago

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

  • seasonsart1031

    seasonsart1031 said 5 years ago

    A wonderful tale and a reminder for the Naughty!

  • beadenchanting

    beadenchanting said 5 years ago

    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,.....

  • tortillagirl

    tortillagirl said 5 years ago

    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.

  • LifeIsRosey

    LifeIsRosey said 5 years ago

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

  • jewellerytreasures

    jewellerytreasures said 5 years ago

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

  • SpaceAgeCeramix

    SpaceAgeCeramix said 5 years ago

    Kind of dark and creepy but unbelievably fun.

  • mudcity

    mudcity said 5 years ago

    I am so thankful for Santa!;)

  • SisterMaryTopiary

    SisterMaryTopiary said 5 years ago

    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.

  • CrossExtreme

    CrossExtreme said 5 years ago

    I am so subjecting my future children to this.

  • rawjawbone

    rawjawbone said 4 years ago

    Awesome!! We need a real-life Krampus.

  • briannalopez

    Brianna Lopez said 3 years ago

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

  • neltner2

    Rick Neltner from Neltner said 2 years ago

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

  • brebird

    brebird from brebird said 2 years ago

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

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