"It's one of the most wonderful times of the year (after Hallowe'en, of course). “What’s Krampus Day?"you might ask. Well, it’s a lot like Christmas, just replace peace and joy with fear and loathing, wholesome presents with brutal floggings and jolly Mr. Claus with a gruesome horned incubus named Krampus and you’ve got the general idea.
In old-school German folklore, Krampus filled out St. Nick’s mythic entourage to play bad cop to Santa’s good. For those on the naughty list, Krampus got downright medieval. Traditionally depicted with huge horns, a black mane, talon-like claws (Krampus comes from the Old German for “claw”), and wielding chains and a birch rod, Santa’s enforcer beat, whipped and shamed bad children. Sometimes, Krampus went so far as to shove his victims into a sack and throw that into a river.
On December 5th, Krampus gets his moment in the spotlight with celebrations of Krampustag occurring all over Austria. The tradition includes young men–usually pretty wasted young men–putting on big, scary Krampus masks, rampaging through the streets swinging chains and whips, much to local villagers’ abject terror. According to National Geographic, celebrations of Krampustag petered off in the 19th century due to some church intervention but is now in the middle of a hellish revival. During the 1990s, Salzburg saw the formation of 180 “Krampus clubs” bent on wreaking some serious Yule havoc.
Personally, I can’t wait until some of this unique Christmas spirit crosses the Atlantic. It will be like a second Halloween, but instead of fun and family-friendly, it will just be really, really scary."
You just KNOW those kiddies in the basket are going to be dinner!