The Legend of Krampus : The Demon of Christmas

During the time of Christmas, many children around the world are waiting with joy and impatience for the arrival of December 25 so that the Santa Claus, appears and leave under their trees the gifts that They have been waiting all year. But only if they have behaved well and have been good. But there is a special place where behaving badly has more than dire consequences, northern Europe.


In European folklore there is a creature that is carried in a sack or basket to children who have had bad behavior, never to be seen again. This being is known as Krampus. This demon lives underground and appears on the afternoon of December 5, wandering the streets for two weeks, ringing bells and rusty chains that he uses to scare both adults and children, as he enjoys sowing terror in the hearts of children. before kidnapping them.

According to legend, many years ago the list of bad children of Santa Claus had grown too much. Overwhelmed by the work he had to do, Santa Claus asked Krampus for help so he could take care of them instead. The demon accepted without thinking for a moment. Thus, while good children received gifts, the wicked were bound with chains and taken underground, where they would be beaten and devoured by the Krampus.


The parents told their children that this creature exists since centuries before Christ. He symbolizes the dark side of Christmas. It is the antithesis of Santa Claus, but its antiquity is 10,000 years. Krampus is a creature that comes from alpine countries, especially in the lands of Austria and Hungary. The word Krampus comes from the old German word “krampen”, which means claw.

There are two ways to describe the Krampus: one of them and the most popular, is demonic face, long tongue, sharp teeth, huge horns on his forehead and a grotesque grimace. His body is covered with a dark coat and he has goat legs similar to those of a faun. The second way they describe this creature is that of an old man with a closed beard and gray hair, with the appearance of a hermit. In a way, in this description, it looks more like Santa Claus.

In the 19th century, due to German influence, the legend of Krampus spread through Croatia, the Czech Republic and Slovakia. It extended to northern Italy. In Europe, during the Middle Ages, Christmas seemed more like Halloween, because the peasants disguised themselves as being to go out and scare their neighbors and thus get food. Children in central and northern Europe know that they must behave well because, otherwise, San Nicolás (or for us, Santa Claus), would not bring gifts. Instead, the Krampus would arrive to take them to an underground world of eternal fire.


During the Middle Ages, the Catholic Church tried to eradicate this belief by considering the Krampus a pagan demon. But They did not know how to end his legend, as it was deeply rooted in the population.

At the end of the 20th century, the figure of Krampus was recovered thanks to the costume parties and shows where young people from many parts of Europe disguise themselves as this demon.

Currently, the Krampus is more alive than ever. The resurgence of this demon in the technological society in which we live is fascinating. Although in some places in Europe is a tradition, they organize horseback riding called “the race of Krampus”, where this being appears through the streets carrying a torch and roams with dry branches to the people who observe it.

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