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Krampus: The Demon Companion of St. Nicolas

by Katrina The Good | Published on December 16th, 2021

With the Holiday season in full swing there is a sense of good cheer in the air. Along with visions of sugar plums dancing in the heads of children, there’s a resurgence of an old Alpine holiday figure that was almost lost in time. That figure is represented as a horned half demon, half goat known as Krampus. While St. Nicholas lived up to his name as Father Christmas, by bringing the good, well behaved children of the world gifts and sweets. Krampus’ duties included beating naughty children with birch bundles and stealing them away to the underworld for a year. While often in modern times Krampus is depicted as being an evil being, Krampus is actually St. Nicholas’ companion and appears to take directions from the beloved Saint.  

 

 

With the Holiday season in full swing there is a sense of good cheer in the air. Along with visions of sugar plums dancing in the heads of children, there’s a resurgence of an old Alpine holiday figure that was almost lost in time. That figure is represented as a horned half demon, half goat known as Krampus. While St. Nicholas lived up to his name as Father Christmas, by bringing the good, well behaved children of the world gifts and sweets. Krampus’ duties included beating naughty children with birch bundles and stealing them away to the underworld for a year. While often in modern times Krampus is depicted as being an evil being, Krampus is actually St. Nicholas’ companion and appears to take directions from the beloved Saint.  

The name Krampus is inspired by the German word Kramer, fittingly meaning “claw”. There is no definitive knowledge of the origins of Krampus, though it is safe to say that he predates Christianity as a figure in winter solstice celebrations. Several sources believe that Krampus is possibly the son of Hel, Norse Goddess of the Dead and ruler of the underworld, also called Hel. Though this writer could not find any Norse stories depicting this familiar relationship between the two beings. Nonetheless, Krampus became a regular part of the Christmas celebrations by the 17th century. December 5 is known as Krampusnacht or “Krampus Night” and is the night that Krampus pays a visit to all the children who have misbehaved throughout the year and gives them their punishments. Then December 6 is the night that St. Nicholas visits the good children and bestows upon them small gifts and treats.

Greeting cards or “Krampus Cards” from the 18th and 19th century depict Krampus and St. Nicholas visiting a home together. Often Father Christmas gives nice gifts to one good child while Krampus whips the disobedient sibling or stuffing him/her in a sack to take away. Other cards were more for adults as some art work showed Krampus proposing marriage to a woman, a woman hiding Krampus’ birch twigs behind her back, or a woman stuffing Krampus into his own bag. Most of these cards were meant to be funny and had humorous poems written in them.  

Thanks to new movies and the power of the Internet, this Christmas demon that is hundreds of years old is making a comeback in European cultures in the form of parades, festivals, and even modern Krampus holiday cards. The dark magic and appeal of Krampus is now expanding across the world and has made it to the shores of America. Though it can be noted that in some regions the terrible appearance of Krampus has been toned down, to appeal to a wider audience. How the mythos of Krampus will continue to evolve into these new cultures will remain to be seen. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all the wonderful Relamers. Be mindful to make Saint Nicholas’ Nice List or else one may feel the stinging whip of Krampus’ birch bundles. 

Katrina The Good

A Little About Katrina the Good: Katrina is an aspiring and talented writer with a passion for blogging. As the resident blogger for The Spirit Realm Network, she focuses her talents on a variety of thought-provoking topics, everything from the Paranormal to Cryptozoology. By day, Katrina can be found working on the frontlines as a health care provider fighting the battle on Covid. The Spirit Realm Network is proud to have her as part of the network and we all look forward to many more thought-provoking articles from her.

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