Who is this Krampus and where does he come from?
|Old card, "Greetings from Krampus"|
Devil-like with goat horns, cloven hooves, and a tongue any Kiss fan would envy, he erupts onto the streets thrashing chains and causing mayhem on Krampusnacht, December 5th, the eve of the feast of St. Nicholas.
Traditionally however, this general ruckus-maker often accompanies St. Nicholas around December 6th as part of central Europe’s festivities. As they parade through the streets together, St Nicholas gives gifts to the nice children while the riotous Krampus thrashes the naughty with sticks!
Close cousins of the Krampus roam the Swiss Alps. In the German-speaking parts they are called Schmutzli, while in the French-speaking areas they are known as Père Fouettard, meaning 'whip.' And just like the Krampus, they accompany Santa and thrash naughty children with sticks. Schmutzli is thought to be the embodiment of pre-Christian evil spirits, and the re-enacted noise and ruckus represent attempts to drive them out.
Krampus himself is deeply rooted in pre-Christian paganism. Could the poor Krampus be the remnant of a pre-Christian god, relegated to Santa’s salacious sidekick much the same way as the Old Gods of Britain and Ireland were demoted to modern day fairies?
Although the specifics of his ancient godly nature are lost in the mists of time, his more recent role is cautionary, threatening children to behave - or else!
How can he be defeated?
There is only one weapon against the devilish Krampus;
Or else you’ll be head first in his Krampus sack and top of his menu this Krampusnacht. You have been warned….
Miles, Clement A. (1912). "VIII". Christmas in ritual and tradition: Christian and Pagan. Toronto: Bell and Cockburn. pp. 227–29.
McLean, Movern. "Schmutzli: the Swiss Santa's sinister sidekick". swissinfo.ch. Retrieved 3 December 2014.
"Run, Kris Kringle, Krampus is Coming!". Der Spiegel. Retrieved 3 December 2014.
Alexandra, Zawadil (6 December 2006). "Santa's evil sidekick? Who knew?". Reuters.
Zeller, Tom (24 December 2000). "Have a Very Scary Christmas". The New York Times.