The Krampus - You Better Watch Out!
The Krampus - The Dark Side of Christmas
The jolly fat man in the red suit that gives gifts to children all over the world.
Beloved iconic folk hero of many lands.
Yes, Santa Claus represents our best side as human beings.
Giving freely, caring for others....but....what about the people (or rather the things) he hung out with?
Santa may be a symbol of good, but in early legends and some traditions, Santa was accompanied by a character that sounded (and looked) like it came out of some feverish Tim Burton dream.
Yeah, you had BETTER watch out!
In the pre-Christian Alpine traditions, there was a creature called the Krampus.
If you watch The Venture Brothers or Supernatural , you may have heard the name.
The name Krampus comes from the Old High German word for claw and while Saint Nicholas would give gifts to good children, the Krampus gave warnings and punishments to the bad children.
Kinda like a scary version of "Good Cop/Bad Cop".
Oh yeah, did I mention that Krampus looks like a demon?
You know that old line, "You better get to bed before Santa comes" that they use on kids?
Well in the old traditions, if you were asleep when Santa got there (and had been good) Santa would leave presents.
But if you were awake...Krampus would think you had been bad and take you away in his sack!
And Santa just looked the other way!
The Krampus would also administer birchings (corporal punishment with a birch rod) to young females.
In later stories, Santa was accompanied by the defeated Devil, in chains.
I guess The Krampus didn't make the transition to American culture because the Coca-Cola execs couldn't figure out a way to put a positive spin on a seven foot tall demon with horns, rusty chains and the bad habit of caning young women, who followed Santa around on Christmas Eve.
I just don't think they were trying hard enough.
Of course our culture hasn't totally forgotten the Jolly Old Demon.
I mentioned earlier that he showed up on the Cartoon Network show, The Venture Brothers , in the episode called A Very Venture Christmas .
Krampus also shows up in the old arcade game CarnEvil as the boss for the "Rickety Town" level.
BTW, LA Weekly called CarnEvil "the most twisted video game ever".
G4 did a Krampus Christmas commercial that featured a Krampus that was sorta cute and cuddly compared to the original....
There is a Krampus (named Banjo...?) in the bizarre graphic novel Chickenhare, written and illustrated by Chris Grine.
Krampus kinda appears in season three, episode eight of the TV series Supernatural titled A Very Supernatural Christmas.
In that episode, Sam and Dean call him a name that I really like..."The Anti Claus"....LOL
It turns out though that the villain isn't really Krampus, it's old Pagan gods who have been trying to blend into human society.
( I don't mean to offend any of my Pagan friends out there, it's what was on the show.)
On the December 9, 2009 edition of The Colbert Report, Stephen Colbert suggested bringing in the Krampus to fight the "War on Christmas" and even had a guest appearance by the Krampus.
You can watch it here:
(The Krampus stuff starts at around 12:00 minutes in)
Although we may not use The Krampus here in the US, on December 5th in Austria, they have Krampustag
Here's a video of with some still shots of the Krampusslauf in 2008....
The Krampus - You Better Watch Out!
Krampus - Official Trailer (HD)
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