Life is filled with instances of good versus evil. We see it in the news and in the movies. With the Christmas season under way, we are reminded of the importance of being kinder. It's that time of year when we become more open and mindful of being the best version of ourselves. However, if for some reason the spirit of the season, the goodness of Saint Nicholas and the birth of Jesus isn't enough to whip you into shape...well, then there is Krampus!
The legend of Krampus dates back over 1500 years ago. It predates Christianity and has its roots in Germanic paganism. Because it is the stuff of legends, there are variations in what Krampus looks like and what he does exactly. But most stories agree on certain things.
Krampus comes out on December 5 evening. He arrives on the eve of Saint Nicholas Day which is celebrated on December 6 across Europe. Krampus is the dark sidekick to Saint Nick. His mission was to scare kids into goodness.
While well behaved children awaited gifts or candy in their shoes on Saint Nicholas Day, those misbehaved children were given birch sticks from Krampus. Those sticks weren't given to the children for them to build something fun with, they were to be used by Krampus to beat the kids into goodness. And if they were really bad, then Krampus would drag them off to Hell to hang with him for a while...or to possibly be eaten by him. That is some scary stuff!
Krampus is part goat and part demon, has a long, scary tongue, giant horns, is black/brownish in color, covered in fur and is making a comeback. Festivals are popping up across Europe and now even in the United States. People dress up as a Krampus and parade through streets poking birch sticks at the observers. There was even a movie released (a very low rated movie) featuring Krampus a few years ago.
Other European countries had similar versions of this legend including the Torun in Poland which was part bison. I was raised in the small Polish community of Bremond, Texas and have friends who still remember the Torun coming to their home and scaring them when they were young kids many years ago around Christmastime. And someone dressed as the Torun always makes an appearance during the our community's annual Polish Koledy (Christmas caroling) event.
So there you have it. The dark side to the light. The yin to the yang. The Krampus to the Santa. I would suggest you be sweet...unless you wish to have a visit from a crazy, furry horned dude.