In recent years, the Legend of Krampus has transcended its Alpine roots, gaining popularity in America and beyond. As a fervent admirer of both Krampus and traditional Austrian attire like dirndls, I sought a way to share this spine-tingling holiday tradition with my son without instigating nightmares. Thus, the idea for a unique Krampus book was conceived. In collaboration with my fellow Krampus enthusiast and uncle, Mike Young, we crafted a darkly humorous yet heartwarming tale that introduces Krampus to a new audience. Illustrated by the talented Erminia Piu, our paperback children's book, "Krampus Meets His Match," brings this legendary character to life in a way that is both captivating and age-appropriate.

but first... 

Who is Krampus?

Krampus, a figure steeped in Alpine folklore, is the antithesis of the jovial St. Nicholas. While St. Nick bestows gifts and sweets upon well-behaved children, Krampus is charged with meting out punishment to those who have misbehaved. Often depicted as a horned, cloven-hoofed, and menacing creature, Krampus strikes fear into the hearts of naughty children. Sometimes he is referred to as the Christmas devil, but that along with any connection on Santa Claus is pure rubbish. What is true however, is that beneath his fearsome exterior lies a multifaceted character with a surprising capacity for transformation.

krampus reading the krampus book to a little bald baby

The Origin Story of Krampus

Krampus's roots delve deep into pre-Christian pagan traditions of the Alpine region. He embodies a fusion of ancient beliefs and Christian influences, embodying the dichotomy of good and evil. Over time, Krampus became an integral part of the Krampusnacht (German word for Krampus Night) celebrations on December 5th, preceding Saint Nicholas Day. During these festivities, revelers don elaborate costumes to channel Krampus's intimidating presence, creating a vivid and unforgettable spectacle.

Krampusnacht Celebrations Around the World

While Krampusnacht finds its roots in Austrian folklore, its influence has spread far beyond the Alpine region. In Germany, especially in Bavaria and parts of southern Germany, Krampusnacht is a cherished tradition with raucous parades known as a Krampuslauf featuring elaborately costumed participants who revel in the role of Krampus. In some regions, it's not uncommon for these parades to include fantastical creatures and mythical beings alongside Krampus, creating a surreal and enchanting spectacle. Hungary also embraces the Krampusnacht tradition with fervor, known locally as 'Krampusz.' The celebrations here often involve lively processions, music, and theatrical performances that engage both participants and spectators in a vibrant display of folklore.

a middle school aged boy dressed as krampus for a krampuslauf holding his mask so you can see his face

In recent years, the United States has wholeheartedly adopted the Krampusnacht tradition just like it adopted the story of Santa Claus, particularly in cities like Los Angeles, Chicago, New Orleans, Cleveland and Washington DC. These American Krampus celebrations blend elements of Austrian tradition with a touch of Halloween mischief, featuring costumed revelers who parade through streets, delighting crowds with their Krampus personas. Some events in early december even incorporate charity drives, where participants collect donations for local causes, adding a heartwarming dimension to the festivities.

Beyond these prominent examples, Krampusnacht celebrations have also been spotted in other corners of the world, from the UK to Australia, as interest in this captivating tradition continues to grow. These global celebrations serve as a testament to the enduring appeal and universal intrigue of Krampus and his spine-tingling legend.

Historical Evolution of Krampus Imagery

The visual portrayal of Krampus has undergone a fascinating evolution through the ages. In its earliest depictions, dating back to the 17th century, Krampus was often depicted in woodcuts and engravings, characterized by a blend of supernatural and bestial features. These early renditions showcased Krampus as a fearsome figure with horns, sharp teeth, and a menacing stance, emphasizing his role as a counterpart to the benevolent Saint Nicholas. As time progressed, particularly in the 19th and early 20th centuries, Krampus began to take on more elaborate and intricate forms, with artists employing a wider array of materials and techniques. The imagery of Krampus became increasingly sophisticated, reflecting the changing artistic styles and cultural contexts of the time. Today, Krampus is depicted in various mediums, from traditional illustrations to modern digital art, each interpretation imbuing the legendary figure with a unique blend of terror and fascination. This dynamic evolution of Krampus imagery speaks to the enduring power and adaptability of this captivating folklore.

The Role of Krampus in Folklore and Morality Tales

Krampus occupies a significant place in the tapestry of folklore and morality tales, serving as a formidable figure meant to instill a sense of discipline and virtue in misbehaving children. In Alpine communities, the legend of Krampus was wielded as a cautionary tale, reminding youngsters of the consequences of misbehavior. Parents and elders would invoke Krampus's fearsome image to encourage obedience and kindness, creating a powerful incentive for good conduct. The threat of Krampus's visit on Krampusnacht became a powerful tool to reinforce the importance of respecting rules and cherishing the values of generosity and compassion. While this tactic of scaring children into good behavior doesn't always yield the best results... one might argue that... the kids follow the rules better in early December!

"Krampus Meets His Match"

In our children's book, "Krampus Meets His Match," we present Krampus in a manner that is both entertaining and age-appropriate. (it's not all about Santa Claus... right!?) The narrative centers around Krampus's encounter with young Susi, who, to his astonishment, displays no fear of the often gruesome creature. What ensues is a heartwarming tale of unexpected friendship and transformation. As Susi's infectious warmth begins to thaw Krampus's icy exterior, an enchanting connection blossoms, reminding us all that even the most creepy of figures can have a softer side.

a look inside the krampus book with an illustration of krampus sitting and having tea instead of using birch branches to punish misbehaving childrenI

The Surprising Warmth of Krampus

"Krampus Meets His Match" unravels layers of Krampus's character, revealing a depth beyond his fearsome facade. Through the genuine affection he develops for Susi, we witness a transformation that challenges the conventional narrative of Krampus as a mere enforcer of discipline with birch sticks. This heartwarming twist emphasizes the potential for kindness and redemption in even the most unlikely of places, making it a tale that resonates with readers of all ages and a great first book to introduce littles to Krampus.

Real People's Reviews to this Krampus Book:

Rich said, "I just received the Krampus book in the mail. It was a total hit with my two boys 2 and 5. I was a little concerned that it would be to scary for them. My family is from Austria and I had so much angst for Krampus as a kid. These guys were laughing and smiling as I read."

Stella gave this book a 5-star review and said, "A fun book to share with small children. I purchased this last year, but appreciate the traditional Krampus depicted here even more, having seen other children's books that don't quite do him justice."

and Kristen (@monstamash) said, "Forget Elf on the shelf, we've got Krampus!" I come from German heritage so I was so pleased to share this spooky, holiday twist with my boys. They loved it and I loved the lesson they learned - be nice OR ELSE!"

woman reading the krampus book to her younf daughter in front of the christmas tree

These reviews are just a sampling of the feedback we've gotten from parents, friends and relatives of little ones about this krampus story. I myself have read this to my sons and they always get a kick out of Krampus playing tea party with Susi. We have definitely made it part of our Christmas tradition right there next to Santa Claus, winter solstice and watching "Elf".

Where to Find Great Krampus Merch

For enthusiasts captivated by the mystique of Krampus, a treasure trove of captivating merchandise awaits discovery. From exquisitely crafted figurines and ornaments to intricate masks and clothing, Krampus-themed items offer a unique opportunity to infuse homes with the spirit of Alpine folklore. 

In our Krampus collection you will find great Krampus shirts featuring the popular phrase "Gruss vom Krampus", enamel pins and much more. All of theses items featuring Krampus are great gift ideas for the holiday season. Whether its a gift for the naughty children on Krampusnacht or your spooku aunt on Christmas Eve, we've got you covered.

a man wearing a krampus shirt standing next to a person dresses as krampus and a woman on the other side. They are all standing in from of pine trees

Embrace the Spirit of Krampus

The Legend of Krampus has undergone a remarkable transformation, transcending borders and captivating audiences with its blend of dark folklore and heartwarming tales. With "Krampus Meets His Match," we aim to introduce a new generation to this legendary character in a way that fosters both intrigue and delight. So, whether you're a seasoned Krampus enthusiast or just beginning to explore this fascinating tradition, our children's book offers a fresh perspective on a timeless legend. Embrace the spirit of Krampus and embark on a journey with him like never before! Get your own copy and let Krampus inspire a newfound appreciation for the magic that lies within unexpected connections.

November 13, 2018 — Erika Neumayer

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