Meet Krampus, the Anti-Santa. Last year I got a little obsessed with this sinister Alpine folk hero (or is that villain, depends on your perspective, I suppose!) known for stealing, beating, and otherwise visiting hell upon bad little children in pre-Christian days. This pagan demon, whose name derives from the Old German word for claws, would tear his victims into shreds and bring the bloodied parts back to the underworld to feast on at will. Krampus reminds me of Heinrich Hoffman’s infamous tales, collectively known as Struwwelpeter (Shock-headed Peter, 1845), a children’s book I first encountered as a kid in a German version my mother (curiously) kept in the basement. The title character’s slovenly ways, evidenced by his unkempt hair and fearfully long nails, were similarly met with sadistic revenge as were other forms of disobedience – suck your thumb and get it cut off, you good-for-nothing brat! Those Germans and Austrians certainly have quite the fetish for discipline, don’t they?
Anyway, here are a few fun images relating to Krampus as well as some vids. Some are vintage, others contemporary (the practice of dressing up as Krampus during the first week of December, usually on the eve of St. Nick, still happens in places like Austria, Hungary, Slovenia, southern Bavaria, etc.). So enjoy, and remember Santa may be making a list and checking it twice, and loading coal for your stocking, but Krampus will flog your ass into a bloody pulp, so ya better be good for goodness sake!