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It’s so strange how these memes work — I’d never even heard of Krampus, St. Nick’s evil companion, until last week and now I’ve run into it four times. Nat Berman, of Unreality Mag, just sent me this round-up of Krampus costumes. Here’s what Wikipedia says about Krampus:

According to legend, Krampus accompanies St. Nicholas during the Christmas season, warning and punishing bad children, in contrast to St. Nicholas, who gives gifts to good children.

In the Alpine regions, Krampus is represented by a demon-like creature. Traditionally, young men dress up as the Krampus in Austria during the first two weeks of December, particularly on the evening of 5 December, and roam the streets frightening children with rusty chains and bells.

So coal in your stocking is apparently the least of your worries.

Krampus: The Evil Companion to Santa

Gareth Branwyn

Gareth Branwyn

Gareth Branwyn is a freelancer writer and the former Editorial Director of Maker Media. He is the author or editor of over a dozen books on technology, DIY, and geek culture. He is currently a contributor for Boing Boing and WINK Books. And he has a new best-of writing collection and “lazy man’s memoir,” called Borg Like Me.


  • StefanJ

    Those are very scary costumes! I don’t think they’d go over well with kids. Krampus should be scary but not terrifying.

    There are other Krampus-like characters. Black Peter, a dwarf who accompanies Santa (or St. Nick) in some countries. The Amish have a nasty Santa too; his name escapes me at the moment, but in Pennsylvania some towns have events similar to Santa’s Village in malls. The guy has snide fun with kids.

    Boing Boing has some articles pointing to collections of Krampus postcards from Europe. There’s a great one shown him on a sled full of kids tucked into barrels, on their way to bondage in a coal mine.

    • http://gravatar.com/wolffood wolffood

      Actually, if you watch the parades or films of them, you’ll see a lot of the kids just ADORE the scary ones. Kids love scary – I know I did!

  • 3leftturns

    The Austrians have got it pegged! Halloween and Christmas in the same month? Dang! As long as kids get candy from Krampus and Toys from Santa, I’d say they’re doing it right!

    Now to start working on my Krampus costume for HallowChristmas next year…

  • Rahere

    In the worst example of cultural avatarism I know, in the Low Countries Black Pete is routinely presented in black-face. The French areas along the Belgian borders know him as Le Père Fouetard, The Whipping Priest.

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