|Place of origin||Europe|
|Current status||Depends in any version|
|Behind the Scenes|
Krampus is a horned bipedal goat-like monster that appears in German mythology and is either a companion or an evil counterpart to Saint Nicholas.
Krampus usually shows up during the Christmas season, where he punishes children who have misbehaved, in contrast with Saint Nicholas, who rewards the well-behaved with gifts. Krampus is one of the Companions of Saint Nicholas in regions including Austria, Bavaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovenia and Northern Italy. The origin of the figure is unclear; some folklorists and anthropologists have postulated a pre-Christian origin for the figure.
Although Krampus appears in many variations, most share some common physical characteristics. He is hairy, usually brown or black, or in some variations, he doesn't have any fur and has the cloven hooves and horns of a goat. His long, pointed tongue lolls out, and he has fangs.
Krampus carries chains, thought to symbolize the binding of the Devil by the Christian Church. He thrashes the chains for dramatic effect. The chains are sometimes accompanied with bells of various sizes. Of more pagan origins are the ruten, bundles of birch branches that Krampus carries and with which he occasionally swats children. The ruten may have had significance in pre-Christian pagan initiation rites. The birch branches are replaced with a whip in some representations. Sometimes Krampus appears with a sack or a basket strapped to his back; this is to cart off evil children for drowning, eating, or transport to Hell. Some of the older versions make mention of naughty children being put in the bag and being taken. This part of the legend refers to the times that the Moors raided the European coasts, and as far as Iceland, to abduct the local people into slavery. This quality can be found in other Companions of Saint Nicholas such as Zwarte Piet.