Krampus and St. Nicholas

Krampus and St. Nicholas

It’s beginning to look a lot like Krampus, everywhere I go.  


In recent years, Krampus has been catching on in the United States, but not in the correct way.  There are many movies and books that scratch the surface of our horned friend and blow his reputation out of proportion.


Enter Germany where Krampus is believed to originate in the 1600s.   Krampus has a purpose in life, to handle the children on St. Nicholas’s naughty list.  Krampus is derived from the old German word for “claw.” He is 7 foot tall, very hairy, bulging eyes, a tongue which resembles a whip and horns.  Naughty children are spanked or whipped and chained to this creature to be taken away until the child repents the naughty behavior.  This all sounds very horrific if you’re a naughty child.


Krampus is a hit in Europe.  Each country and sometimes villages have their own stories of Krampus, but they all agree he walks with St. Nicholas.  In Croatia, on St. Nicholas Eve (December 5th), Krampus and St. Nicholas enter each city together, each with a job to do.  Children clean their boots or shoes and put them in the window. If they were good, St. Nicholas will leave chocolate and a small present in the boot, but if they were naughty or if their shoes were unclean, Krampus leaves golden twigs to remind the children how to behave.  


Krampus is the original Elf on the Shelf with a meaner and scarier look about him.  Many European countries hold Krumpfest, a festival celebrating this horned creature.   You can find examples of these celebrations all over the internet.  Some say Krampus is an equal to St. Nicholas, as they both serve a purpose, while others say he is an evil helper.  I find Krampus fascinating and interesting.  Don’t follow the American version, which is quite incorrect. Make time to check out the European history. 


A warning for all adults, Krampus will punish adults too.