Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Santa Claus is coming to town, and he is bringing the KRAMPUS

Since it is the holiday season I am going to concentrate the next couple blogs on Christmas. The joyful time of year when everyone feels better and the world is full of love and hope; Except for you little children who were naughty this past year, in which case, here is your reward, THE KRAMPUS.

The folklore of the Krampus is prevalent throughout the Alpine countries in Europe, from Austria to the east and all the way to France in the west. The origins of the Krampus may pre-date Christianity, and its true beginning is lost in antiquity.

The Krampus is a large demon like beast. It usually appears with a huge protruding tongue, and its skin is brown or green in color. It has large horns, which protrude from its fierce looking face. It can carry chains, belts and sometimes birch switches.

What is it purpose of the Krampus? The Krampus carries chains, belts and switches for punishing naughty, misbehaving children. He also carries a sack, or a pack with him, and he will take children who are particularly evil, back to the forest with him to be devoured, or be taken to hell. At a minimum, the Krampus is a tale of a bogey man to frighten bad children into acting better.

Many people dress up as the Krampus for the holiday season. In many countries, this occurs on the night of the 5th of December, the eve before Saint Nicolas Day. There is a connection between our nice old Saint Nicolas, and the Krampus and it is a disturbing one.

St. Nicholas, or as many people call him Santa Claus, travels throughout the land giving good kids toys. We have established that the Krampus is a type of anti-Santa Claus, but how does he travel? He travels with Saint Nicholas. The dear old Saint Nicolas gives the Krampus a ride with him to the children’s house. The children then do not know if they will receive a present or be beaten by a giant demon, and you thought it was the excitement that kept children from sleeping on Christmas Eve.

The Krampus is not the only companion of Santa Claus. In many cultures, there are others who travel with him, but have a similar function as the Krampus.

Belsnickel is another traveling companion of Santa Claus in some parts of Germany. He wears a fur coat which covers his entire body. He delivers shoes of coal or switches to naughty children.

Zwarte Piet, or Black Pete is another aide to Saint Nicholas, particularly in the Netherlands and Belgium. He travels through the chimney, resulting in him having a charred black face. In some regions, he may, in fact, be he a “slave” to Saint Nicholas, and why his tale is considered racist by many people.

Knecht Ruprecht, or Farmhand Ruppert, is another companion of Saint Nicholas. His appearance is very similar to Santa Claus, white beard, but he is dressed in simple, or ash covered clothing. He acts as a servant for Saint Nicholas and may represent the peasant social class.

One thing you notice about Santa Claus, it appears, he does not like giving bad news to children, so he has someone else do it for him.

The Krampus, although a European tradition, has been making an appearance in American media. The cartoons, American Dad and Venture Bros. both have had episodes which feature him. I am a big fan of American Dad, but Venture Bros. is my favorite since it is a spoof of the show Johnny Quest.

Thank you for taking the time in reading my Blog about the companions of Saint Nicholas. I include medieval holiday traditions in my novel; "Legend of the Mystic Knights". It would make a great Christmas gift to anyone who has a kindle.

Next time: I promise to have a more cheerful look at the holidays.


  1. Ok...Santa is more like a Mafia Don than the white bearded conduit of goodwill and cheer. I loved this story William. I have heard of Zwarte Piet before as I have Dutch family but your explanation of Santa's cadre is both disturbing and entertaining. Glad I am not a kid anymore :)

  2. I never knew about this! How terrifying to be a kid in Europe.

  3. Wow! I'm so happy that the Krampus was NOT a part of my Christmas lore! He would scared me silly!! I'm not sure that it would have scared me into good behavior, but he would have made me fear Christmas!!!

  4. What a terrible thing to scare children into being good by the threat of Krampus. I grew up - until I was 8 - in Holland and of course know about Sinterklaas and Zwarte Piet, although Zwarte Piet was portrayed as Sinterklaas' helper, never as something bad. Can't imagine the nightmares this Krampus must have caused, Would have served the parents right if they had been up for a year on the middle of the night tending to their childrens' horrible dreams. In the meantime William, you have a wonderful Christmas - we don't have to worry about Krampus.

  5. I can see why believing in the Krampus would be a significant deterrent. A lot more substantial than the threat of a lump of coal. Interesting post.

  6. Have to admit I had never heard of Krampus. Thankfully my parents didn't talk about him at Christmas.

  7. Haha, I always get a kick out of reading info like this. Most Disnyfied icons have their roots in much darker beginnings. Plus the notion of childhood innocence and whatnot is relatively new.

  8. I've never heard of the Krampus. Guess I need to catch up on my American Dad... I'm with Santa though, I hate giving my kids bad news! Maybe I should get an evil henchman to do it for me.

    1. Maybe you just invented a new business, “Hire the Krampus”, We come to your house to give bad children coal.

  9. I have been thinking about the comments left by everyone, an reflecting on the time period the Krampus and the others began.
    It was a time when plague and decease ravished over Europe. Whole towns were whipped out.
    I had talked about witch burnings in my previous blog.
    At one time, children went to a crusade to the Middle East. It ended up with almost everyone being sold into slavery.
    When you think about it, being whipped by a huge demon at Christmas for being naughty might not have been that terrifying to a child, compared to everything else he had to face during that year.

  10. Here I thought that Scrooge was scary. Krampus hanging around with Santa would have made me think twice. At least it lets Santa off the hook

  11. That is crazy! I would be scared as a child. Al though I Love hearing the history of old stories and where they came from.

  12. The Krampus may seem scary, but really, Grimm's fairy tales are pretty horrific. Hansel and Gretel - wicked witch eats children. Snow White - evil stepmother poisons stepchild. Sleeping Beauty - more poison. Pretty sure these have been toned down from the originals, too!

  13. First time I came to know about so many creatures associated with holidays. Krampus. is very scary. I am happy that I have not seen any of them in my life.
    Happy holidays.

  14. I've never heard of the Krampus. I know a few people he would have paid a visit to when I was younger.