Krampus Is Coming To Town…-By Angelique Duncan
He has a cloven hoof, covered in fur, horns and an inordinately long devils tongue and pointed tail. He rattles chains, rings bells, and carries a broom switch and a dark cloth bag or basket on his back. If you’re naughty he’s coming for you! He is Krampus. Although demonic in appearance he is not evil. He is the conscience of the Winter Holiday Season. He travels with St. Nicolas, or Santa Claus as he is sometimes known, and on occasion with a winged angel.
Krampus emerged from pre Christian Germanic tradition and has held a controversial position in holiday history. He has been known by many names, Grampus, Klaubauf, Bellsnichol, Krampusz, Wubartl or Bartel. In early history during the Inquisition he was banned by the church and religion. Later Austrian Fascist and social conservatives outlawed him. In modern times religious conservatives in America have discouraged his presence and deemed him evil and glorifying to the devil. Social conservatives advocate that he is too “scary” and inappropriate in his appearance for children. Despite this Krampus has endured and is enjoying resurgence in popularity.
Legend has it in variations depending on region and era that he travels with St. Nicholas on the annual winter visit to children. St Nicholas delivers sweets and gifts to those children who have been virtuous and good. To those who have been naughty Krampus delivers switches and coal. The folklore goes on to state that if a child was particularly ill willed or a considerable brat in nature Krampus would beat them with the chains and broom switch or the worse possible punishment of all. He would scoop them up in his bag or toss them in his basket and take them away to the Black Forest. Some say he would detain the children and lash them for their offenses. Others tell that he would eat them for his Christmas supper.
Krampus serves as conscience that there are consequences for ones actions. His image instills a reminder that even if one thinks they are “getting away” with their crimes, St Nicholas and Krampus are ever present watching. Come December 24th, reward or punishment will be served.
Angelique Duncan is proprietor of Twilight Faerie Nostalgic and Capricious Objects.Check out her artist page to find links to her shops and vintage inspired traditional holiday art. Visit again next month for more traditions and folklore.