Learning to Love Krampus, the Anti-Santa


If you’ve spent any time recently on the internet (or in a Germanic nation), you probably already know about the Krampus, Santa’s mythical horned-beast helper, whose job it is to punish naughty children by use of chains, a bundle of branches he uses for beatings, and a tub he has on hand “to cart off evil children for drowning, eating, or transport to Hell.” Everyone who knows the Krampus loves him, in spite (or because of?) the fact that his name roughly translates to “Giddy child murderer.” But have you really, truly welcomed him into your holiday traditions? I suspect not.

Now, maybe you’re yelling at the computer, “Hey, that’s not fair! I don’t have any children in my life who need moral instruction/a good scaring.” That doesn’t matter. Even if you don’t want to threaten any kids with a holiday trip to hell, and even if you don’t want to be the kind of person who puts on horns, gets wasted, and makes a public scene in a Krampus parade, there are still options. You could send out holiday cards in his image — Krampuskarten, as they are known — or you could pay homage by drinking some of Souther Tier’s Krampus-themed beer, which clocks in at a super festive 9.00% APV. You could even watch Anthony Bourdain’s claymation “Krampus Carol” special, which was banned from the travel channel but is alive and well on the internet.

The point is, you have to at least do something. Why? Well, there multiple reasons. Firstly, whether or not your anti-holiday sentiments have already been monopolized by Festivus, the Krampus has political significance of sorts. Did you know that no one has ever hated the Krampus more (or launched more failed efforts to eradicate him) than the Nazi party? It’s true. As decent non-fascists, we are all honor-bound to support him. One might also point out that a tradition this old and weird should be kept alive for its own sake. But really, at the end of the day, doesn’t a little bit of danger and darkness make all the other jolly stuff going on this time of year that much… jollier? Or at least take the edge off? After two straight months of too much literal and figurative holiday sugar, this year, I’m lobbying for a very Krampus Christmas. See you in hell?

Follow Virginia K. Smith on Twitter @vksmith.

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