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  • Cynthia Gabron

Krampus, A History

While the whole world focuses on the positive companion of Krampus, St. Nicholas, people often forget about Krampus, who is a big part of European culture. According to Britannica, Krampus is a popular legend and is a half-goat, half-demon monster that punishes children who haven’t behaved throughout the year. It is believed to have originated in Germany, and the name Krampus comes from the German word claw. Krampus has been known to be associated with the Catholic Church, even though they don’t support or encourage this legend.

According to National Geographic, The myth of Krampus is that he, along with St. Nicholas, arrives on December 5th, known as the night of Krampusnacht. St. Nicholas gives all the good children gifts, but kids who have misbehaved get beaten with sticks or even get eaten. Krampus is also believed to take kids to the underworld/hell in his basket. The next morning is used to open gifts or try to heal any injuries Krampus has given the night before.

Even though children are petrified of Krampus, there are traditions that take place mainly in Austria, Germany and the Czech Republic, such as the Krampus run. Krampus runs are very popular; people dress up in scary costumes and try to scare spectators, especially children. Krampus cards are exchanged as well.

Though Krampus originated in the 20th century, citizens all over the world make an effort to keep traditions alive. Horror movies have been created around the myth of Krampus and his efforts to steal children, so the myth has become more mainstream. St. Nicholas and Krampus are supposed to represent the balance between good and evil.

Germany isn’t the only place with some kind of Krampus. France and the Netherlands are good examples of other countries' traditions. France has Hans Trapp and Pere Fouettard, and The Netherlands have Zwarte Piet.



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