by Karen Joslin
St. Nick steals most of a family's attention by rewarding their good kids, while Krampus steals a bad child, shoved upside-down in his basket.
You’ve probably heard of Krampus if you’ve landed on this page. But if not, here’s a quick primer on this mythological creature:
Krampus is a half-goat, demonic beast who punishes the naughty. Originally, there were more than one (plural: Krampusse).
In November or December, depending on the exact location, Krampusse would descend on Central European towns. Brandishing bundles of sticks, they whipped children and adults guilty of misbehavior.
Krampusse stuffed especially naughty children in a basket and carried them down to the underworld, where they might torture or eat the children.
The Christian church attempted to ban Krampus celebrations, which proved an utter failure. So they incorporated Krampus into Christmas traditions by turning him into St. Nick’s sidekick.
St. Nick and Krampus would visit children together, with St. Nick rewarding the virtuous and Krampus punishing miscreants. Chains were added to Krampus’ wardrobe, thought to symbolize the Devil's binding by the Church.
Beginning in the 19th century, Christmas postcards featuring illustrations of Krampus became popular.
Some illustrations, like the one featured above, adhered closely to Krampus folklore. Others took a lot of artistic license.
While many of these illustrations are humorous, some lean toward the darker side, and a few are downright disturbing.
Let's take a look at a few, shall we?
Apparently, one of Krampus’ duties is enabling St. Nick’s creepy voyeurism. And he’s happy to oblige!
Italian Krampus is less monster and more tough guy, zooming around on a motorbike with his paesano St. Nick lounging in the sidecar.
Every time I look at this image, I feel like I’m looking at a poster for a buddy film.
Screenwriter: “Okay, so it’s a buddy film with St. Nick and Krampus--”
Movie Exec: “Isn’t Krampus kind of like a demon that eats children?”
Screenwriter: “Yeah, but we can make him small and kind of cute, like Dobby the house-elf in Harry Potter.”
Movie Exec (nodding): “Okay, yeah, I like that.”
Screenwriter: “Anyway, they need to help a little girl get her tree home before Christmas Eve or Christmas will be ruined.”
Movie Exec (nodding): “Mm-hmm, mm-hmm, why’s that?”
Screenwriter: “Maybe her house is built on a portal to Hell and the only thing that can stop it from opening is a magic Christmas tree?”
Movie Exec: “As long as there’s wacky hi-jinks and a ski-off, I’m in.”
These boys respond appropriately to a visit from Krampus: run screaming!
These girls, on the other hand, seem pretty excited at the prospect of Krampus taking their brother away forever. And big sister seems to be saying to little sister, “You should go, too. Don’t worry, it’ll be fun!”
This one throws Krampus mythology right out the window to make a little social commentary on the evils of wealth, or perhaps the hypocrisy of “polite” society. Krampus, Satan... whatever!
Ah, the Jazz Age, when flappers bobbed their hair, indulged in some reefer madness, and made whoopee. Well, Krampus is not having it, and he’s got an airplane to keep up with the times.
The text on this postcard roughly translates to, “A maid, who has been bad, flies straight to Hell – should have been well-behaved.”
Forget chestnuts, this Krampus prefers roasting hearts over an open fire.
In a feminist triumph, this female Krampus abducts dandy rapscallions. Playboys and cheating husbands, beware!
Yes, Krampus is a horrifying monster, but that doesn’t mean he can’t be a civilized ladies man.
“Why, Krampus, is that a bundle of sticks in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me?”
Maybe it’s just me, but this Krampus resembles Liberace. Is this blonde bombshell headed for heartbreak? Or a mutually beneficial relationship full of entertaining dinners and staged photo-ops?
Krampus may have bound this entrancing beauty in chains, yet she’s clearly in control. She has bewitched him to the point of flying him around on his own bundle of branches. You go, girl!
These two young ladies effortlessly subdue Krampus, presumably because of their outstanding virtue. Or maybe it’s the cocaine:
And then there’s this. If ever a child actually deserved to be shoved in a basket and dragged down to Hell, it’s definitely this budding psychopath.Achtung, Krampus!
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