This was a blast to write! The Krampus is awesome and deserves much more attention here in the States! Anyway, here’s my look back at The Krampus from last Christmas.
Here in the United States, the celebration of Christmas is a joyous time of spending time with family, giving gifts to one another, and gross over commercialism. When it comes to Christmas, we use the icon of Santa Claus as the master of ceremonies (and sometimes that other dude too, depending on your religious beliefs.) However, in eastern European folklore, Father Christmas was accompanied by more friends than just plucky elves and flying reindeer. On the contrary, he recruited the efforts of a demonic bodyguard to punish all the naughty children. Look at this way, our yuletide saint can dedicate more time to blessing all the good children of the world! However, Ol’ Saint Nick ain’t the focus today, for his cohort Krampus deserves much attention!
The Krampus is a demon creature that is a furred humanoid with big gnarly horns, a fur hide, cloven hooves, and a winding twisted tongue. He travels with his jolly old friend to be the opposite of a Santa Claus, a bad kid’s worst nightmare! Our dark and devilish friend typically gives the brat a good spanking before plopping them in his giant bag and hoisting them off to the depths below! (Hell, if you prefer.) While a mainstay in much of Easter Europe, this infernal companion is merely a cult figure in the western hemisphere. Here, the delightful mischievous and punishment of the Krampus provides a darker alternative to a month long holly jolly Coca Cola commercial.
Outside of traditional folklore, how popular is he? While somewhat obscure in much of our popular culture, he has made quite a few visits! One of the more memorable ones was his appearance on Stephen Colbert’s show, where Colbert announces him as a method of striking about against Christmas naysayers; only for The Krampus to inform Colbert that he too has been bad himself. Hijinks ensue!
Besides Colbert, one of the only other semi-accurate interpretations on television is Venture Brothers. After the creature is accidentally summoned from an arcane tome, he wreaks havoc on the Doctor Thaddeus Venture’s Christmas party… although it just devolves into a giant sex joke.
Thankfully, this gem from the G4 archives does a much better job of displaying him in a truer light… albeit one through a drug enhanced lens.
More recently, Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated got in the spirit of Krampus; featuring him as an antagonist so scary, he turns your hair white in terror!
Even hit drama Supernatural joined the holiday horror spirit! But like the Jersey Devil episode of The X-Files , the actual being does not appear, and rather something else confused for it.
While he’s been under represented on TV, the global communications of the internet have spread the word about this fearsome being. Zero Point Zero’s take on the Krampus spoofs the classic Rankin-Bass stop motion shorts to craft a cautionary tale akin to the age old tradition itself. Even several web artists and web comic writers have pitched in to celebrate a Merry Krampus! Titles such as PvP and Something Positive make their own spins on the myth, with their own comedic twist.
His appearances in video games haven’t been quite as accurate. One of his first known appearances in the arcade shooter, CarnEvil. Here he appears as the boss of the holiday themed, “Rickety Town” as a warped Santa Claus with a dirty blue suit, claws, and antlers. While more so a pastiche, the antlers have been used in some versions of the Krampus. Another popular game, Binding of Isaac also features Krampus as a boss in the devil room. Nothing about this Krampus entirely hones back to the classic lore, but he looks a lot closer than his CarnEvil counter part.
But, don’t just think visual media is the only art form to spread Krampus to the world! On the contrary, Satan’s Little Helper has gone to music as well. Electronic group ACTUALLY has made their own music video dedicated to the festive demon. A. Huizenga recalled in an interview, “I saw stuffed animal devils with their tongues hanging out, hiding under Christmas trees. I was amazed. And then my friend told me about Krampus. I knew I had to make a music video about this evil black hairy beast for Christmas.”
While the Krampus has all sorts of darkly humorous memorabilia in Europe, especially form its more Eastern based origin, some other oddities have popped up here in the States too. In fact, the celebration of Krampusnacht (Krampus Night) has made its way to the west as well! During the night of December 5th into 6th, Father Christmas ushers in cheer for all the good children of the world. However, all the bad children meet their doom with the Krampus! Well, not really… In fact, the Krampus myths have become much more tame in recent years. Why else would there be so much merchandise dating back to the late 19th century!
While not as big of a deal, the celebration has still taken to the streets as a morbid, yet festive alternative to Coca Cola Christmas and sales a the local mall.
If you’re still eager for some dark holiday fun, embrace your naughty inner child and check out some various Krampus goodies for yourself!