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
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
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.