The Krampus


Happy Krampus creeps!


In folklore, Krampus is a horned, anthropomorphic figure described as "half-goat, half-demon", who, during the Christmas season, punishes children who have misbehaved, in contrast with Saint Nicholas, who rewards the well-behaved with gifts. Krampus is one of the companions of Saint Nicholas in several countries including Austria, Bavaria, and parts of Northern Italy to name a few. The origin of the figure is unclear; some folklorists and anthropologists have postulated its pre-Christian origin.


In traditional parades and in such events as the Krampuslauf, young men dressed as Krampus participate; such events occur annually in most Alpine towns. Krampus is featured on holiday greeting cards called Krampuskarten.



In the aftermath of the 1923 election in Austria, the Krampus tradition was prohibited by the Dollfuss regime under the Fatherland's Front and the Christian Social Party. In the 1950s, the government distributed pamphlets titled "Krampus Is an Evil Man". Towards the end of the century, a popular resurgence of Krampus celebrations occurred and continues today. The Krampus tradition is being revived in Bavaria as well, along with a local artistic tradition of hand-carved wooden masks. There has been the public debate in Austria in modern times about whether Krampus is appropriate for children.






Comments

  1. My grandma was born and raised in Switzerland, so I heard about Krampus when I was a kid -- although she called him "Black Peter." That name etc is a whole other debate right now that's raging in Europe, I understand. Anyway, she never made too big a deal about B.P. because she thought such beliefs were best left "back in the old country." She loved Christmas though and always had a huge real tree with ginormous glass ornaments on it -- a real Christmas memory for me! I now have a couple of those old ornaments and treasure them.

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