America has Santa Claus. Germany has the Christkind… but then there is this half goat half demon, devilish figure that shows up in Alpine folklore.

Who is this Krampus? Where did this crazy legend come from? Well, we’ve got the low-down on this darker Christmas tale.

Here are the true Krampus facts that you need to know.

Skip ahead:
Who is Krampus?
Krampus appearances in early December
Modern Krampus

Who is Krampus?

The name Krampus is derived from the German word krampen, meaning claw. He is said to be the son of Hel in Norse mythology.

Krampus is an Alpine creature who, unlike Santa Claus, doesn’t bring gifts — he punishes bad children.

He’s usually depicted as a hairy man with horns and cloven hooves who carries a bundle of birch sticks to swat disobedient children. Legend has it that he drags the unfortunate little ones away in his sack or basket.

In the 12th Century, the Catholic Church attempted to do away with Krampus because of his resemblance to the devil.

But the Krampus tradition was too strong!

The best they could do was to spin the tale and create what one might call a compromise… Thus he became the companion to Saint Nicholas; the duality of good and evil.

Krampus also known as the Christmas Devil. Krampus runs after a boy. He punishes naughty children

Image copyright Rare Dirndl 2017

Krampus appearances in early December

Dec. 6th is Nikolaustag, or Saint Nicholas Day, when children look to see if St. Nick left them gifts in their shoes or boots.

Dec 5th is Krampusnacht or Krampus Night. In some regions, it is said that Krampus would leave naughty children rods, sticks or take them away in his basket or sack.

Classic German... to think that with every wonderful thing, there is the possibility of something equally as terrible.

Krampus, a mythical creature, is making a girl cry

Image copyright Rare Dirndl 2018

Modern Krampus

Today, Krampus is making a big come-back in pop culture. Perhaps it is in response to the commercialization of Christmas... a way of adding a darker reality to the sugar plum sweetness that Christmas usually represents.

Krampus is a reminder that Christmas can be a time of reflection on our behavior throughout the year.

It can be an opportunity to reflect on how we've acted, and whether or not we should continue to behave in the same manner when the New Year comes around.

Person in Krampus costume posing next to smiling mom and daughter

There is also the tradition in Austria, Germany, Hungary, Slovenia & the Czech Republic of the "Krampuslauf" which involves folks dressed as Krampus, who take over the streets—a Krampus Parade of sorts.

No matter what meaning you put behind him, there's no denying that Krampus is an iconic figure of Christmas and the winter solstice, and he's here to stay!

So get ready for Krampus-themed decorations and costumes to make this Christmas the most wickedly delightful yet!

Who knows? You may even come across a Krampus parade or two.

These events are also gaining popularity throughout the US with major events in Milwaukee, Cleveland and Dallas.

For a full list of Krampusläufe, CLICK HERE

Need more Krampus in your life? Then be sure to check out our Krampus Collection! Only available during the holiday season, we have new items and classic favorites like the feel-good children's book "Krampus Meet's His Match"

Legend of Krampus- Pinterest
November 05, 2019 — Erika Neumayer

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