Titles: The Lord of Yuletide, The Horned God of the Witches, Companion of Saint Nicholas
Commonly Featured In: Cards, Celebrations, and Folklore
Seeing as this will be the last of the holiday spirits I’ll review, and my last blog entry for the year, let’s wrap this up with a bang.
Krampus is a figure that is most popular in Germanic countries, particularly those of the Alpine regions, but is also growing in popularity here in America. Krampus is something of an… anti-Santa Claus though he is commonly recognized as being one of his chief companions during the holiday season. Whereas Santa Claus delivers gifts to good children it is the duty of Krampus to punish those children whom have been bad.
As one might imagine from his figure, Krampus is a strong believer in spare the rod, spoil the child method of handling naughty children. Common folklore has it that should a child be naughty, and particularly so during the holiday season, Krampus will appear to chase them down and swats their behinds with birch branches. The chains that he is often depicted as wearing are quoted as being there for a more dramatic effect. Admittedly, the older legends and tales of Krampus have it that he also carried with him a sack to cart children away either for him to eat or for direct transport straight into the bowels of Hell.
By now, I’m sure a good many of you are wondering just how in the heck someone like this is so popular amongst Germanic speaking countries and is gaining further popularity here in the United Staes. Well, I’ll be honest with you.
I have no idea.
The various media that have recently portrayed Krampus are still too new to have a solid grasp of his character. In the television show Grimm, Krampus is a breed of Wesen that only appear during Christmas that have a sort of Doctor Jekyll and Mister Hyde mentality. With the Mister Hyde aspect wanting to capture and eat children but that’s Grimm for you. In the cartoon series, American Dad, Krampus is depicted in a sort of “Beauty and the Beast” scenario, but is nonetheless shown that though he does spank naughty children he does so because he cares for their well being. He actually wants to see them grow up into decent people rather than those who could potentially turn out far worse as the years go by.
There has even been a novel made that depicts Krampus as being the true lord of Yuletide by, unfortunately, I have only just received it this morning as an early Christmas gift and as such have nothing further to add on it. I will however mention that Legendary Pictures is currently working on an actual Krampus movie set to be released this time next year.
In his native lands, Krampus is such a popular that he has not only his own series of holiday cards, which are rather disturbing to behold let me tell you, but two separate holiday celebrations. The first, known as Krampusnacht or “Krampus Night” takes place on the sixth of December and is, generally speaking, the night when Krampus sets out to deliver coal and birch bundles to naughty children to remind them that, just like Santa Claus, he is always watching.
The second holiday is far wilder by comparison and has no set date as of the time of this post. Known simply as Krampuslauf, or “Krampus Run,” is a day wherein people dress up as Krampus and proceed to make merry heck about the streets often in the form of a beastly parade or other such things. There is even a unique flavor of fruit brandy, called Krampus schnapps, which are readily available. This in particular seems the most fun to me as it’s rather like celebrating Halloween a second time and during Christmastime to boot!
Overall, do I agree with the rise of Krampus’ popularity here in the USA? Frankly, yes I do. Admittedly, taking aside the spanking bit, as that’s a debate I shan’t touch with a ten foot pole thank you very much, the concept of a character that actively punishes naughty children by way of frightening them into good behavior is one that humanity has exercised for years. Whether its monsters of make believe or those who are human in body but monstrous in heart and soul, children are taught to fear the consequences of their behavior from things far more terrifying than their parents’ wrath.
Not that I can imagine Krampus being more terrifying than an angry mother or father but that’s neither here nor there…