10 Fun Facts About Krampus, the Christmas Demon

By Chris Ward in Daily Lists, Miscellaneous
Friday, December 23, 2011 at 8:05 am
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American kids have never earned a Christmas gift -- they know goddamned well that no matter how bad they've been all year, there's still probably an iPod with their name on it come December 25th. There's a reason you don't see that same sense of self-entitlement in German kids, and that reason is Krampus, the Christmas Demon.

While smug American children sleep easy knowing the old "lump of coal" threat is empty and baseless, many naughty European children are annually threatened with a Pagan Fertility Demon from deepest, darkest hell -- a goat-legged, horned satyr who won't leave coal as much as he will beat them savagely for their misdeeds and then drag them to hell (it's somewhat more effective). So, let's get to know Mr. Krampus, the Child-Eating Holiday Hellbeast, shall we?

Note: This post originally ran on on TR December 23rd, 2010. I wasn't going to run it again, but Krampus made me. --Rob

10) Krampus Is Older Than Jesus

Krampus (from the German "Krampen," or "Claw," or "Giddy Child Murderer") was born of a pre-Christian, Alpine Pagan tradition, and has been described as a "boozy goat-horned menace that whips children around Europe." Lest you confuse this with Madonna, Krampus can also be identified by his matted-black hair, Gene Simmons-like tongue, cloven hooves and, I can only assume, a penis that is violently barbed like a housecat's, but also corkscrewy and muddy like a pig's johnson. He also sports a large wicker basket on his back, filled to the brim with thorny, unbreakable birch sticks. What are the sticks used for? Oh, we're getting to that! WE'RE GETTING TO THAT!

9) Krampus Rides Shotgun with Santa
The Mystery Science Theater 3000 classic Mexican Christmas movie Santa Claus shows the jolly old elf thwarting the devil Pitch at every turn, protecting the poor children and showering them with gifts. But on December 5th in places like in Austria, Switzerland, Croatia and Germany, the little bastards are on their own. Krampus is St. Nick's right hand man: a good cop/bad cop team of pure emotional torture. If it's decided you're good (AND you pass a grueling pop-quiz on religious catechism, in some traditions), the gifts are yours. If not, you are swiftly whipped raw and right to the edge of death by Krampus' unrelenting birch rods. St. Nick -- the Don Michael Corleone in this fucked-up relationship - -looks on but keeps his hands clean. He's a saint, after all.

8) Men are Encouraged to Terrify Children as Krampus
As a young German child you may reach an age where you don't believe this Krampus shit anymore. And that's about the time a herd of men dressed as Krampus--or Krampi, I guess--will approach your bedroom window, in full-Satan regalia, rattling rusty chains and large bells and screaming at you...every December 5th. And while you're pissing down your lederhosen, your parents then LET THEM IN THE HOUSE, LET THEM TORMENT YOU AND THEN HAVE DRINKS WITH THEM. Known as "Krampusnacht: Night of the Krampus" (which sounds like a straight-to-DVD Uwe Boll Film), these "often intoxicated" men invade entire towns with torches, chains and other traumatizing instruments until the streets run brown with the shit of mortified rug rats. Still, if you're wasted, feeling violent and in possession of a Pagan Incubus costume, this actually looks like the most fun you will ever, ever have during Christmas.

7) Krampus Has Mastered Many Forms of Punishment
When it comes to punishment, Krampus doesn't stop at mere birch rods. That would be too kind. Under the careful tutelage of Pinhead and various Cenobites, Krampus' retribution repertoire grew ten-fold over the centuries. According to a series of very popular 1800s postcards, Krampus enjoyed: ripping pigtails out, leading children off a cliff, sadistic ear-pulling, putting pre-teens in shackles, forcing children to beg for mercy, and throwing youngsters on an Express Train to The Lake of Fire (making no local stops). And then there's my favorite: drowning children to death in ink and fishing out the corpse with a pitchfork. It's like The Grinch meets Hostel.

6) Krampus Makes a Terrible Video Game Boss
Krampus' made a brief cameo in the arcade game CarnEvil -- better known as that shitty first-person shooter with the broken trigger collecting dust at your local Multiplex game lobby. While he looks more like a Santa/Krampus/Rudolph hybrid, and spouts off terrifying bon mots such as "I'll stuff YOUR stocking!", the pixilated poser can't hold a candle to the real, eye-gouging legend of old. But it's another pretty good example of America taking something foreign, and making it 100% less fun or interesting.
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