Food & Culture

Meet Krampus, the Terrifying Anti-Santa

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.

Written by Joanie Faletto December 3, 2015

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