The Origin of Krampus
You better watch out, you better not cry, better not pout, Krampus is coming to town. And Krampus will deal with all the naughty children. He pokes them with sticks and drags them to hell! Yikes! If you’re like me, you love all things creepy and macabre. What is more macabre than St. Nick having a demon doing his dirty work dealing with all the naughty children? According to history.com, the origin of Krampus is believed to originate in Austria’s Alpine region (and some areas of Germany).
Early in December, any children that St. Nicholas deemed naughty would be visited by his companion, Krampus. Krampus, who is half-man and half-goat, looks everything like the devil. The celebrations of the winter solstice were where Krampus began. but then it became part of Christian traditions. St. Nicholas would visit and reward children on December 5th or 6th. If you were bad, Krampus would visit you instead.
In addition to visiting naughty children, Krampus would be seen running through the streets during Krampuslauf. Krampuslauf, which means “Krampus run”. Austrian men (mostly drunk) run around and scare kids during this festival. Even though our culture’s love of Krampus seems fairly newer the love of Krampus goes way back. In the 1890s Krampuskarten took over with Krampus holiday cards in Austria.
Krampus goes National!
Love sending cute cards with Snoopy or a cute Santa cat? Or Krampus stuffing children into sacks for being naughty? Cards showed him punishing children and even proposing to women. Most people outside of Europe never really saw a Krampus card until Monte Beauchamp, a graphic designer, had them published in a book. The book was the beginning of the spread of knowledge of Krampus. But really social media is what helped take Krampus to Christmas stardom.
Krampus’s popularity has grown and grown in the past decade. In 2015 Krampus was taken to the height of popularity with his own movie, Krampus. This opened the Krampus floodgates even further. Social media and marketing love Krampus. He even had a guest spot as one of the Santas in the new Santa Clauses show on Disney. And there are even festivals and events all over the country and the world. Now those that love the dark and sinister nature of things can have their own special twist for the holidays.