“If your naughty, you’ll get a lump of coal!”
So many parents love the Christmas season when they can start “threatening” telling their kids that only kids on Santa’s “good list” will get Christmas gifts. So, they better go
- Clean their room
- Not fight with their siblings
- Not talk back
Whoever thought of this= PARENTING GENIUS! At least for the month of December!
But then there’s Germany…who (surprise surprise) takes this whole warning and threatening style to a whole new level.
This year, many Americans may have been seeing movie trailers for the horror film that has a satanic creature haunt a family over the holidays. I honestly have no idea what it is about. I’m guessing it isn’t TOO spot on to the traditional German traditions – other than the fact that it’s about a demon-goat (yes, you head that right).
However, let’s take a look at the real story and traditions of Krampus in Germany
Who is Krampus?
Krampus is not for the faint-hearted. But, with that being said, that pretty much describes most Germans! Quite honestly, if I was told the story of Krampus, I’d be terrified to be good if I were a kid, too!
This half-goat, half-demon has many traits that would scare the bejeezus out of any little one. He:
- Whips his chain and bells around
- Carries tree sticks to swat at naught children
- Can steal bad kids and take them back with him
- Chases people around
Why is there Krampus?
Like any good story, there is a good versus evil undertone. Except this hint isn’t so subtle.
Whether it truly is a way to “scare” children into being good (gee, I don’t see any future issues with that at all…) or just a classic Good vs Evil story, Krampus sure does make a strong impression.
Good vs Evil
Instead of filling a stocking Christmas night, every December 6th, St. Nick comes to visit the kiddos of Germany. Before bed, they’ll leave a shoe out for St. Nick (Santa in the US) who comes and leaves the children with treats (or more recently, different small toys and candy). If you’ve been good, you’ll get the goodies!
However, if you’ve been bad, Krampus will come and put coal in your shoe!
These traditions clearly have made their way around the world, as most people have heard of the coal or candy in your stocking; pending your behavior.
In Bavaria, the ChristKind, or Christmas Angel, is often seen shooing away the demon, leaving behind only the goodness and purity of the original Christmas intentions.
You are likely to encounter Krampus at a Christmas Market. Krampus even has his own night: December 5th, conveniently the night before St. Nicklaus’ Day. While the history dates back to pagan festivals, people today still love a good, rowdy party! Even though the Krampus folktale is said to have originated in Germany, many of the Krampusnacht Festivals take place in Austria.
- Check out Salzburg’s Krampus Activities (not just on the 5th!) or other fests in the Salzburg Region and then stick around for the New Year’s Eve celebrations!
- Another popular festival is the Klagenfurt Krampusnacht
While the original folklore story of Krampus started out pre- Christianity, it has very much become apart of the Christmas traditions here in Germany. While Krampus costumes truly are terrifying (ok, not just for kids!) everyone (including the little ones) seem to know that it is all just apart of the amazing culture and traditions. At any given Christmas Market, Krampus and his cronies can be seen chasing people who are actually laughing (NOT mortified of the awful goat-demon) down the rows of stalls, with the beautiful Christmas Angel or St. Nick not far behind to save the day with their kindness and goodness.
Every culture, country and family has their own set of odd and interesting Christmas traditions. Tell us in the comments, what is yours?
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