Have you been naughty rather than nice this year? If so, Krampus would like to have a word…
In recent years, Krampus has become a truly global pop culture phenomenon, but until the last decade, the concept of St Nicholas’ demonic sidekick was a strictly North-East European myth. In the great tradition of no reward without equal punishment, Krampus was the stick to Santa’s carrot – the punishment that awaited the children who had been naughty instead of nice. A horned demon with a lascivious tongue and – if the illustrations are to be believed – a taste for the ladies who may have used their wiles to distract him from their miscreant brats – Krampus would gather up the badly behaved children and beat them with birch twigs. He carries chains and a sack to haul the kids away with and the threat of a Christmas Eve visit from this monstrous figure must have kept a few kids at least on the straight and narrow.
Like Santa, Krampus likes his treats – in his case a glass of Schnapps, offered as a bribe by parents of delinquent children. He travels alongside Father Christmas and as a final insult, leaves a lump of coal for the children who have not measured up and have received his beatings. Harsh but fair, we feel.
Despite being such a figure of fear, Krampus invariably made his way into Christmas traditions and appeared on postcard and greetings cards, cartoons and advertising. he’s probably more popular now than ever – a wicked and malicious alternative to the sweetness and enforced jollity of the festive season and a reminder of pre-Christian belief. Here – for those of you who have been especially naughty this year – are a collection of vintage Krampuses to enjoy.
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