Krampus might be coming for your children… if Saint Nick isn’t thrilled with their behavior.

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Krampus Greeting Card from the 1900sAccording to Wikipedia: In German-speaking Alpine folklore, Krampus is a horned, anthropomorphic figure who punishes children during the Christmas season who have misbehaved, in contrast with Saint Nicholas, who rewards well-behaved ones with gifts. Regions in Austria feature similar figures and, more widely, Krampus is one of a number of Companions of Saint Nicholas in regions of Europe. The origin of the figure is unclear; some folklorists and anthropologists have postulated a pre-Christian origin for the figure.

In the 20th century, Austrian governments discouraged the practice. In the aftermath of the 1934 Austrian Civil War, the Krampus tradition was prohibited by the Dollfuss regime under theFatherland’s Front (Vaterländische Front) and the Christian Social Party. In the 1950s, the government distributed pamphlets titled “Krampus is an Evil Man”. Towards the end of the century, a popular resurgence of Krampus celebrations occurred and continues today. The Krampus tradition is being revived in Bavaria as well, along with a local artistic tradition of hand-carved wooden masks. There has been public debate in Austria in modern times about whether Krampus is appropriate for children.

Krampus_posterIn Europe today, young men dress as different versions of Krampus. sporting a fur covered body, cloven hooves, the horns of a goat, and a  long pointed tongue that lools out of the mouth. Some incarntions have the figure  carrying chains ans bells, while others a large sack in which to capture naughty children and perhaps dragging them to hell. Krampus has made his way to the US more recently. Here is a list of cities that celebrate with their own Krampus celebrations:

The new horror-comedy Krampus has just been released in theaters to mixed reviews. My best guess is that if  you’re a fan of the 1974 Christmas horror cult classic Black Christmas, Krampus will be right up your alley. Check out the trailer below:

Krampus is a 2015 American Christmas horror-comedy film based upon the eponymous character from Alpine folklore, directed by Michael Dougherty and written by Dougherty, Todd Casey, and Zach Shields. The film stars Adam ScottToni ColletteDavid KoechnerAllison Tolman, Conchata Ferrell, Emjay Anthony, Stefania LaVie Owen, and Krista Stadler. It was released on December 4, 2015, by Universal Pictures.

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