by Karen Joslin December 23, 2019
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?
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