The Krampus, is he a demon or a god or maybe both? We will discover what is known about this northern European creature of Christmas as we go along.
The Krampus is a satyr-like creature with the legs of a goat, and He can also have the chest and head of a man but with horns. He can also have the face of a wolf, but it really is up the artist. No photographs have been taken of The Krampus.
The origin of The Krampus is unknown. Some think he is a leftover god from the days before Christianity took over Europe. But the god of what is unclear. It is known that he had a day that he was celebrated or honored; that day was December 5th, called Krampus Day. On that day The Krampus appeared in villages, and both beat and carried children away who were known to misbehave. He was a creature to be feared when left to his own devices.
However, the Krampus is tamed by the appearance of Saint Nickolas.
Saint Nicholas was the Bishop of Myra in what now called Turkey in the 4th century. There are many miracles and good works associated with the bishop and a few of them regard children.
For instance, a man with little money has three daughters. Unable to provide a dowery for them, he decides they must become prostitutes. Nicholas hears of this and secretly throws bags of gold into the man’s house three bags over three nights. It is said that the gold landed in the girl’s stockings which were hanging by the fire to dry.
Another tale is told of children who got lost and were hungry, so they approached a butcher for food. The butcher killed the children, cut them up, and stored them in barrels for later use. Nicholas heard about this and raised the children back to life and in one piece,
These stories are why Saint Nicholas is the patron saint of children.
Saint Nicholas is known throughout Europe, and he is celebrated in many ways. In Dutch his name is Sinter Klaus. When the Dutch came to the USA, they brought Nicholas with them and the USA adopted him and named him Santa Clause.
Santa Claus or Saint Nicholas does not bring Christmas gifts to the children of Germany and Austria. The Christ Child and his angels do that. Saint Nicholas does visit the children, but it is on his feast day of December 6th.
On December 6th Saint Nicholas comes but he doesn’t come alone. He is accompanied by The Krampus, who is in chains and is subject to Nicholas. When Nicholas arrives, he brings a book that tells the good things and the bad that the children had done throughout the year. The good children are given bags of sweets and fruit, the bad children get a birch tree branch that can be used to beat the child. The Krampus give this branch, and it is known if the child doesn’t behave, The Krampus will take him away. The birch branch is placed in a central spot so the child can see it and be inspired to be good.
In Maria Von Trapp’s book The Story of the Trapp Family Singers, Maria tells of Saint Nicholas and The Krampus visiting the children while she was still the governess. The Saint knew all the bad things the children had done but he knew of some sins of the adults and pointed them out. The cook had burnt the Sunday cake and didn’t tell, so The Krampus gave her the birch branch.
The Krampus has come back into style of late. Motion pictures have been made about the creature, and some are beginning to celebrate his day. Who Knows, maybe The Krampus will come to your house this year.