It’s almost Christmas season and November has just ended. This time of the year reminds us that before joy, there’s always nightmare, like how Jack Skellington almost ruined Christmas with his Halloween-manufactured toys. His intentions were good though it did not turned out so well. Anyways, we’re not going to talk about Jack and his misadventures in Christmas town this time. We’re going to talk about someone scarier, fuzzier, and if someone is capable to make you hate Christmas for your entire life, it would be him. Let’s talk about Krampus.
Apparently, goats can give you bad day not just by crossing roads while you’re driving. They can also make you recite every single saint you know including the ones that hasn’t been nominated yet. This goat is what they called “the shadow of Saint Nicholas” and has been tormenting kids in Central Europe, Northern America, and some other Catholic countries around the world. His name is Krampus. Yes, he could be the name you probably already heard from your parents to make you behave on the last hours before Christmas at least.
According to Wikipedia, Krampus is a horned, anthropomorphic figure. Anthropomorphism is the attribution of human characteristics or behavior to a god, animal, or object. He came from Alpine folklore that became popular mostly on countries around Europe although not as famous as our favorite Santa Claus. According to some stories, Krampus punishes children during Christmas season who have misbehaved, in contrast with Saint Nicholas, who rewards well-behaved ones with gifts. Now you know where that Naughty List mailed to.
Based on the images I found on the internet and some books that have Krampus’ picture, he is always described and depicted as a hairy devil, with sharp claws, elongated horns, razor sharp teeth, chains, a long tail, and legs that resembled as of a goat’s hind legs. His feet and furry coat is also the same as a goat but his build, arms, and face is like of a man. In greeting cards, he is sometimes shown having one human foot and one cloven foot. He often wears a red coat, similar to Santa Claus’ favorite winter robe with bells and chimes that also jingles together with his chains as a sign of his arrival. Just like Santa but in an appearance of a man-goat creature. Its origin is clearly unknown but according to Wikipedia, his chains could have been introduced in a Christian attempt to ‘bind the Devil’ but they could also be a remnant of pagan initiation rites. An anthropologist named John J. Honigmann wrote when he is in a small town of Irdning, Austria in 1975 that the Austrians believe Krampus derives from a pagan supernatural who was assimilated to the Christian devil.
In Europe, a cultural event happens yearly since 1800s that features Krampus in greeting cards. They call it Krampuskarten or sometimes introduced as Gruß vom Krampus which translates “Greetings from Krampus”. I don’t know what they feel upon receiving greetings from a devil but let’s just consider it as a reminder to be good for Christmas. Since children are one of the main focuses in Christmas, Krampus’ greeting card pictures are usually frightenning with Krampus forcely put children in a sack or cage for punishment.
What I find funny with Krampus’ old pictures taken from books, are how people seem to welcome and accept him inside their houses so that he could pick their naughty kid every year, like a school bus. I think we already learned the lesson here. It is stated in a song with the lyrics that goes “He knows if you’ve been bad or good so be good for goodness sake”. If you don’t know where this line came from, you better watch this movie titled “Krampus” which will be in cinemas this December 2015.