“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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Thats kind of a little bit terrifying!! Though I guess if you grow up with Krampus the effect of being scared may wear off after a few years 😀 I’m not sure if I would be mortified or be one of those who run away laughing if a Krampus costumed man started chasing me down the street!
Very cool to hear about the different traditions of Christmas in other countries though. Thanks for sharing!
I don’t care how old you are….I think it’s scary!!! But I agree, it’s still fun to see why different parts of the world have different traditions
I saw the movie trailer and had never heard of Krampus. So many folk tales are actually pretty dark. I am very curious how the movie will be received this year…Christmas meets creepy.
I hate scary movies, so I won’t be seeing it, but I have a feeling that Hollywood will do it’s part in convoluting the story and tradition of Krampus!
I absolutely love Christmas and have never heard of Krampus before! I might not like Christmas so much if I had heard of him. Being from North America, my family has the typical Christmas found here. The decorated tree, the presents, milk and cookies left out for Santa.
Thanks for sharing, I enjoy hearing about other traditions!
Very interesting yet a bit frightening! I love reading about different Christmas traditions! A bit relieved that the culture I grew up in didn’t include Krampus though. Otherwise, I might see Christmas a little differently growing up since I wasn’t always a good girl, hah.
I don’t think there is any odd Christmas tradition in Italy, that I know of. I hate Christmas well enough as it is, no need to look for more reasons to hate it!
Aww, I didn’t hear about it, and have to say you made me scared… or maybe each country has its own scary traditions and after we grow up, and get use to them, we are not scared of them any more…
Well that is a little bit scary but then again The Grinch isn’t that great either and yet that has a huge following. So interesting to read about different countries traditions and stories, I had not heard about this one.
I never even thought of the Grinch in comparison! So true! Although, there is at least a good and happy ending there. The idea of being carried off into the pits of Hell is you are bad with Krampus on the other hand… :/
I’m very glad to learn about this German tradition. I’ve never heard of Krampus, although I have some relatives living in Germany. I love Christmas and I find it very interesting that each nation has its own stories and traditions when it comes to Christmas.
I had honestly never heard of Krampus before reading this… you learn something new everyday! It sounds uniquely German, that is for sure!!
Interesting, I was talking about German Christmas traditions yesterday with a friend of mine and we were talking about St. Nicolaus and the Angel. Some of these traditions are very strange (we have many of those in Spain) while others are very religious but they all have a very interesting past and story. I’d be pretty scared of Krampus…