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By: Valerie Padilla

As the holiday season approaches, tales of Santa Claus and his little elves vigorously running a toy factory in the middle of the North Pole begin. However, in many European cultures, there seems to be another figure that makes an appearance throughout December and continues to put fear in children’s hearts. His name is Krampus. Some of you may know him from the 2015 movie “Krampus,” which was rated 6.5/10 on IMDb. The movie itself was not favored, but the story behind this ancient half- goat, half- demon beast is quite interesting.

In actuality, Christmas has nothing to do with Krampus' origins. Instead, they originate from the European area's pre-Germanic paganism. The name Krampus comes from the German word Krampen, which means "claw," and is thought to have first been introduced in Germany. The winter solstice pagan rituals were thought to have included Krampus as well, he is said to be the progeny of Hel, the Norse god of the afterlife. Now you may be asking, “How does this hideous creation even relate to such a jolly holiday as Christmas?”

To answer your question, in some regions of Europe, Krampus is still regarded as a significant aspect of the Christmas holiday. There, it is believed that Krampus punishes children who have been bad while Saint Nicholas or Santa Clause rewards those who have been good. Before the Christmas holiday, some people decorate twigs with paint to serve as a warning to kids that they should be good or else Krampus will punish them. In addition, some regions of Europe celebrate Nikolaustag, or Saint Nicholas Day, on December 6. Krampusnacht, or Krampus Night, occurs on December 5. In order for St. Nicholas to reward the good children the following evening, it is said that Krampus will arrive that night and administer his punishments to the children. Even though this might seem evil, Krampus is well known to serve justice, as he never punishes innocent children and is often seen only where Saint Nicholas or Santa Claus tells him to be. Overall, this creature is one whose main purpose is to serve as the counterpart of Santa Claus but not as an enemy to the well- known gift- giving man.

In fact, in some cultures, customs such as writing Krampus greeting cards, dressing up as him, and celebrating his day with drinks, costumes, and even horror attractions are normal during this Christmas season. Some individuals say that this celebration of such a terrifying figure is used to preserve cultural heritage that may have been lost if not for the rituals dedicated to Krampus. Others say that the commercialization of Christmas is what led to the spread of Krampus into the United States and other cultures that had not paid much attention to the creature at all. Although Krampus still continues to be a rampant creature making his way through every place of the world, be sure to paint some sticks and leave them out, just in case!

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