Krampus (For the Holidays!)

As part of my brief childhood experience in Europe, I was lucky enough to spend my Thanksgiving vacation in Vienna, Austria. While the Christmas Market, “Christkindlmarkt.” was in full swing with gifts, hot cider, and Wiener Schnitzel – some decorations reminded me more of Halloween than Christmas.

Meet Krampus:


Krampus. Image © flickr/pixelpoint

Unlike in the United States where only Santa Claus keeps his list of “naughty and nice” – where the penalty for being a bad child is just a lump of coal in one’s stocking. In Austrian culture the job is split in two, with Saint Nicholas taking care of the good children while a goat-horned beast known as Krampus will come to beat bad children with rusty chains and take them away in his sack.

The result? Your typical holiday parade in America consists of Santa Claus, his reindeer and and some cute elves, fun for the whole family… while in Graz, Austria – things are a bit more frightening. Young men dress in elaborate Krampus costumes and fill the streets, scaring those in town before filling themselves with drink to continue a night of terror.

While this all seems quite terrifying – I would imagine it does help Austrian parents keep their children well behaved – and of course spawning some more satirical portrayals of the beast.

As part of my search for Krampus-related material, I came across “Krampus Kards,” a blog run by Brandon Dawley featuring drawings of the mythical creature created by the artist, vintage postcards from his collection and a Etsy shop selling cards he makes for the holidays.

As part of the globalization of society thanks for the internet, Krampus is now becoming part of American pop culture too, with various satirical shirts, videos, and gifts finding popularity – notably a special guest appearance by Krampus himself on The Colbert Report... nothing quite like a man dressed in fur with a mask to get you in the holiday spirit.

The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
The Blitzkrieg on Grinchitude – Hallmark & Krampus
Colbert Report Full Episodes 2010 Election March to Keep Fear Alive

2 thoughts on “Krampus (For the Holidays!)

  1. In France, the equivalent to Krampus is Père Fouettard, meaning the whipping father. He isn’t however a mystical creature, but instead is a former butcher who killed, butchered, and cooked three children on the eve of St. Nicholas day. When St. Nick arrived looking for the kids, he magically brought them back to life. Père Fouettard then decided to repent and devote his life to the man who fixed his wrong doings. In short, the French make their children believe that St. Nicholas is assisted by a former child murderer, how joyous.

  2. This is a great tradition. This way kids are scared into actually being good at least part of the year. We should also have the same tradition in the U.S. I would suggest one of the Orcs from Lord of the rings. Seriously though this tradition has been in Germany for a very long time and if kids are bad they consequently get coal and a beating for Christhmas.

Comments are closed.