In Austria and Hungary, there is a legend that keeps kids good all year long. In the spirit of Christmas, I thought I would give you one more reason to be good this year. In this legend, Santa Claus gives presents to good boys and girls on Christmas Eve, while his demonic counterpart deals out the punishment. His name is Krampus.
He gets his name from the old German word for "claw." In Austria, St. Nicholas is helped by this demon on Christmas Eve. They are even travel buddies. Not only is his name an inspiration for year long nightmares for children, but he looks it as well. He has a red face with goat horns atop his head and shaggy black fur all over. He carries chains and rings a large cowbell. He has a long crimson tongue, a tail, and he totes around a big stick and huge black bag.
In Austria, children place their shoes on the window sill or outside there bedroom doors. Santa and Krampus visit in the night. Good children get candy in their shoes, while Krampus beats naughty children with his stick. However, if the child has been down right rotten, Krampus stuffs them into his bag, carries them far away, and throws them in a river!
How terrifying would it be to have a pleasant Christmas Eve, you go to bed where sugarplums dance in your head... only to have this man-goat-demon burst into your room, dragging chains and ringing a bell? Then, he beats you with his stick, all the while, you scream for your parents for help! Lastly, he stuffs you in his bag to carry you away (your parents don't try to stop him, even after they've seen what he has done), and throws you in the river where you drown! All because you were a bad boy/girl that year.
The legend actually spread to most of Europe, and is very popular in many countries. Today, Krampus day is a celebration that happens every December 5th. In some towns, a handful of men will dress up as this beast by putting on masks with horns, wearing furs, and stomping around in heavy boots. They visit houses that have small children in them. The men knock, the parents let "Krampus" in, and the men terrorize the children by growling and waving their sticks in the air. After everyone has had a good scare put in them, the parents, get this, reward the men with a good rest and a drink!
Krampus has been brought into the Hollywood limelight by three different people.
The popular show, Grimm, featured Krampus, but named him "Wesen".
American Dad did another Christmas Special about their grudge holding Santa, but putting Santa and the Smiths on the same side to defeat the "evil" that is Krampus.
On December 4th, Krampus had a $61.5 million hit named after him, allowing him to join the other Christmas horror movies.
And you thought Christmas was safe!