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The History of Krampus

By Tammie Parker
Fans of horror like to think of another guy in a fur coat this time of the year: Krampus. He has been around for centuries now, and is growing more popular in these times. Krampus originated in the Alpines region. He is said to be part goat, part man, and all demon. krampus-red He walks upright on goat hind legs, is covered in fur, has goat horns, and sports a long curling pointed tongue. Krampus is Deutsch (German) and derives from the word krampen, meaning claw. Now doesn't he sound like a rootie pacutie!
In some regions of Europe ,Krampus is one of the Companions of Saint Nick. Knecht Ruprecht, Belsnickel, and Zwarte Piet are the others. Krampus and St. Nicholas are often seen together in books, and on Christmas cards. Krampus has been featured on cards since the 1800s in Europe.
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Krampus comes the night before The Feast of Saint Nicholas. This night is called Krampusnacht. He carries a sack full of switches and goes into every house to find the misbehaving children. With eyes rolling all directions, tongue lashing in and out, krampus-sledtotheunderworldstumping with one goat hoof and one man foot (I imagine that is from versions blending together), he would sniff out the bad ones. Krampus would whip them, throw the naughty child into his sack and take them back to the Underworld, where they would be lost forever.
Then, with all the rotten children gone, St. Nicholas could come. Saint Nick only deals with good children.
In other versions, Krampus would just leave lumps of coal instead of presents. But who wants to hear about that when we have claws, fur, and an underworld?
Nothing like the good ole days and demons to scar a child for life huh! Maybe if this snot-nosed heathens now had some demons to fear they wouldn't be so disrespectful. Hell, maybe we could get some shirts tucked in!
In Germany, it used to be popular to pass around holiday cards with Krampus decorating the front. Just look how lovely these are.
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Until Krampus was outlawed in 1923. OUTLAWED! Craziness! Luckily, in the 60s, he started to appear again. Many cities in the Alpines have parades today, where they dress up as Krampus.
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It's called Krampuslauf (Krampus run) Where drunk men dressed as krampus run around the streets. It's pretty much *St.Patty's day meets Mardi Gras meets Christmas*, and it is certainly time for America to embrace Krampuslauf!!!!
Merry Krampuslauf!

Posted by Tammie Parker

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