Food & Culture

Meet Krampus, The Terrifying Anti-Santa

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Santa is the famously jolly ol' character synonymous with the Christmas season. But why should he get all the wholesome glory when there's a Bavarian holiday beast fixing to scare your pants off? Meet Krampus, the demonic beast of Christmas. And you thought coal in your stocking was bad.

Have a Holly, Jolly, Petrifying Christmas!

Krampus is the centuries-old Christmas devil creature that comes out on the evening of December 5th, a night known as Krampusnacht. On this night, the German legend has it that Krampus visits the children who have been naughty over the last year. That's one more reason to stay on the nice list, kiddos!

When Krampus visits the bad apples, he, according to legend, would take these wicked children back to his lair. So, uh, merry Christmas? A modern take on this tradition in Austria, Germany, Hungary, Slovenia, and the Czech Republic is slightly lighter, but still pleasantly unsettling — it involves drunken men dressed up in handmade Krampus costumes to chase people through the streets for a Krampuslauf-a Krampus Run. 'Tis the season.

In Bavaria, Krampus Catches The Naughty

Coal in your stocking? That's nothing.

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Key Facts In This Video

  1. Krampus, the evil Christmas devil, is the antithesis of Santa. 00:42

  2. Legend has it, Krampus will visit children during the holiday season if they have done something bad over the year. 01:01

  3. Krampus is a centuries-old tradition in Germany and Austria. 03:54

The Real Story Behind Krampus

The demon is rooted in Norse mythology.

5 Bizarre Christmas Traditions From Around The World

Don't get eaten by the Yule Cat!

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Key Facts In This Video

  1. In the Ukraine, a fake spider and web are hidden in the tree, thought to bring good luck to those who find it. 00:32

  2. In Iceland there is a legendary cat who is thought to eat anyone who did not receive new clothes for Christmas. 00:52

  3. In Austria, they believe Krampus is Santa's alternate, who punishes children that were naughty. 01:35

Written by Joanie Faletto December 3, 2015