It’s december 5th. St Nicholas Eve. That means one thing and one thing only, especially if you happen to live in Middle Europe (Austria, Hungary… That sort of area…) It’s Krampusnacht!
Krampusnacht centres around the Krampus (Also known as Klaubauf and Schmutzli), which is exactly what it sounds like- An evil, hairy demon with horns, goat legs and a very twisted face (which according to the conspiracy nut jobs is exactly what the royal baby will look like considering that Prince William is, according to them, the Anti-Christ.) In fact, just imagine a great big hulking beast from any fantasy/world of war-dragons type thing and you’re pretty much there.
He’s usually paired with Saint Nick and he acts as a kind of antithesis. Saint Nick gives presents to the good children and Krampus punishes the bad ones, usually carrying them away to his lair in a sack where he thrashes them with birch branches or more frequently eats them. In the majority of less extreme cases he just gives them a lump of coal. (Giving someone that as a present is actually a really funny trick to play on someone, especially if they live in a country where it’s tradition that bad children get a lump of coal!) I came across one little bit of trivia where in some places Krampus is actually St Nick’s evil twin. Which makes sense if you think about it. Of course St Nick has an evil twin. He’s pure goodness and everything of pure goodness needs pure evil to balance things out.
Krampus originated in pre-Christian times, which in most cases usually means that the Catholic church will have tried to stamp it out at some point or other- This is definitely the case with Krampus. They even used the inquisition (Yes… That one!) to stamp it out at one point. Krampus was also discouraged during the twentieth century because he was ‘evil’ and in modern times you have people wailing about how it’s not suitable for children. Personally I think it’s just a bit of fun.
Krampus is a big thing in those parts. They have him on cards and everything. Ok, he probably scares a few very young children but it’s common knowledge that most children actually like to be scared. And it’s not as if he’s actually going to harm them or anything.
In a lot of places, just as they do with Santa, people dress up as Krampus and he goes around with Saint Nick visiting homes and businesses and generally terrifying people, usually whipping them with his birch branches. Sometimes a lot of Krampuses (Should that actually be Krampi?) get together and then have a race, with alcohol. Like I said earlier, it’s all a harmless bit of fun, in this case drunken fun.