Seasons Beatings To All
The legend of Krampus is a centuries-old German Christmas tradition. As far back as the 16th century, boisterous masked devils were incorporated into Christian winter celebrations and by the 17th century, the figure began to be paired with St. Nicolas.
Krampus, whose name is derived from the German word krampen meaning claw, is said to be the son of Hel in Norse mythology. He is dark and hairy with cloven hooves, the horns of a goat, and a long phallic tongue. He lashes chains and bells about as he beats naughty children savagely with birch branches and drags them off to hell (a somewhat more effective deterrent to bad behavior than a lump of coal in our opinion).
According to folklore, Krampus shows up in towns the night before December 6, Krampusnacht or Krampus Night but which also happens to be Nikolaustag, or St. Nicholas Day. On that day German children look outside their door to see if the shoe or boot they've left out the night before contains presents for good behavior or a rod for bad behavior.
For parts of the 20th century Krampus's frightening presence and the raucous, boozy celebrations surrounding him were suppressed —the Catholic Church forbade his inclusion in religious festivals, and nazi fascists in World War II Europe strongly discouraged the practice. A 1934 New York Times article headlined “Krampus Disliked in Facist Austria” declared Krampus “Strictly Verboten” and police were ordered to “arrest the devil on sight" as he was thought to be “the work of wicked Social Democrats."