While American kids usually get their Christmas gifts no matter how good or bad they have been all year, their European counterparts have a good reason to behave themselves throughout the year. Traditionally, on December 6th, less than 3 weeks before Christmas, St. Nicholas visits families in many European countries and rewards kids who have been good. However, he does not come alone. He is accompanied by another fellow, a scary monster known as Krampus. As you might guess, Krampus’s duty is to take care of the bad kids. To find out more about this terrifying mythological figure and what he does to his victims, check out these 25 Creepy Cool Facts About Krampus.
In some Tyrolean communities (an area in Austria), Krampus actors have to wear a number so that everyone can know who is behind the mask.
If a German or Austrian family invites Krampus to their home, it is customary to offer him a glass of Schnapps, strong distilled fruit brandy.
Krampus has been a popular feature on greeting cards since at least 1800's. Over time, however, the appearance of Krampus in the cards has changed. Older versions had a more frightening Krampus, while modern versions feature a rather funny and cute monster.
In smaller, more isolated Austrian villages, Krampus might have other beastly companions, such as the antlered Wild Man.
Think Krampus celebrations sound like a good time? They might be for some people, and in some areas of the world, they might be tame. Just know what you might be getting into. While we told you already that they've been known to get out of hand, the basis of a Krampuslauf (Krampus run) actually involves the Krampusse chasing people down and beating their legs with bundles of birch (sticks)!
Photo: feature: shutterstock, 25. Krista via flickr, CC BY 2.0, 24. Ryan Baumann, Moa foot, CC BY 2.0, 23. wikimedia commons (public domain), 22. Mravlja Matjaz, Sveti Miklavž in parkelj, vsakoletni sprevod po naselju Šutna, CC BY-SA 4.0, 21. en.wikipedia (public domain), 20. publicdomainpictures.net (public domain), 19. wikimedia commons (public domain), 18. User:MatthiasKabel, Krampus Morzger Pass Salzburg 2008 03, CC BY-SA 3.0, 17. Horst A. Kandutsch, Moderner Krampus Kärnten, CC BY-SA 3.0 DE, 16. wikimedia commons (public domain), 15. en.wikipedia (Fair use: movie poster; illustrative purposes only), 14. Eli Christman from Richmond, VA, USA, 2014 Carytown Krampusnacht (15341172564), CC BY 2.0, 13. Johann Jaritz, Poertschach Krampuslauf Perchte 29112013 770, CC BY-SA 3.0, 12. pixabay (public domain), 11. chocolate.cz (fair use, illustrative use only), 10. User:MatthiasKabel, Krampus Morzger Pass Salzburg 2008 08, CC BY-SA 3.0, 9. Silverije, Međimurski fašnjak 2015. – Svetomartinski krampus, CC BY-SA 3.0, 8. Llorenzi, Sfilata Krampus a Dobbiaco 5, CC BY-SA 3.0, 7. Tourismusregion Katschberg/Rennweg from Rennweg am Katschberg, Austria, Adbentmarkt Krampus und Nikolo (6481043547), CC BY-SA 2.0, 6. Randy359th, DC Krampus, CC BY-SA 4.0, 5. Llorenzi, Sfilata Krampus Dobbiaco 1, CC BY-SA 3.0, 4-3. wikimedia commons (public domain), 2. Johann Jaritz, Poertschach Krampuslauf 30112012 944, CC BY-SA 3.0, 1. © Copyright Colin Grice and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence