In European folklore, there is a creature that puts “bad children” in a sack and takes them to a place from which they can never return. This being is known as Krampus.
When Christmas approaches, many children around the world eagerly await the arrival of Santa Claus, who leaves the long-awaited gifts under the tree. But only if they were good and decent. But there is one place where bad behavior has more than disastrous consequences, Northern Europe.
In European folklore, there is a creature that kidnaps “bad children” and puts them in a sack. Legend has it that these children disappear forever.
This being is known as Krampus.
This demon lives underground and appears on the afternoon of December 5th, roaming the streets for two weeks, ringing rusty bells and chains which he uses to frighten adults and children while delighting in sowing terror in the hearts of the little ones before kidnapping them.
According to legend, many years ago, Santa’s list of naughty children had become too long. Overwhelmed by the work he had to do, Santa enlisted the help of Krampus to take care of them.
The demon accepted without a moment’s thought. Thus, while the good children received gifts, the bad ones were chained and taken underground, where they were tortured to death and eaten by the Krampus.
The parents told the children that this creature existed centuries before Christ. It symbolizes the dark side of Christmas. He is the antithesis of Santa Claus, and his age is 10,000 years. Krampus is a creature that originates from the Alpine countries, especially the lands of Austria and Hungary.
The word Krampus comes from the Old German “krampen”, which means claw.
There are two ways to describe Krampus: one of them, and the most popular, has a demonic face, a long tongue, sharp teeth, huge horns on the forehead, and a grotesque grimace. Its body is covered in dark fur and it has goat legs.
The second way I describe this creature is as an old man with gray hair and a hermit’s appearance. In some ways, he is more like Santa Claus in this description.
In the 19th century, thanks to German influence, the Krampus legend spread to Croatia, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia. In Europe, during the Middle Ages, Christmas looked more like Halloween, as peasants dressed up as this creature to scare their neighbors.
Children in central and northern Europe know that they have to behave themselves because otherwise, Santa wouldn’t bring them presents, and instead Krampus would come to kidnap them and take them to an underworld of eternal fire.
During the Middle Ages, the Catholic Church tried to stamp out this belief by considering Krampus a pagan demon. But he did not manage to put an end to his legend either, as it was deeply rooted in the population.
At the end of the 20th century, the figure of Krampus recovered thanks to costume parties and performances where young people from many parts of Europe dress up as this demon.
Today, Krampus is more alive than ever. The rebirth of this demon in the technological society we live in is fascinating.
Although it is a tradition in some places in Europe, there are parades called the “Krampus race”, where this being appears in the streets carrying a torch and wanders around whipping people who notice him with dry branches.