Really just fills you with that old-time Christmas Spirit, doesn't he?
Krampus is an Alpine mountain Christmas demon
who figures heavily in the Christmas traditions of Central Alpine Europe. According to legend, Krampus accompanies St. Nicholas
during the early Christmas season. Depending on the story, Krampus is either a regular demon enslaved by St. Nicholas to do the Saint's bidding, or is a demon who willingly and gladly works as St. Nicholas's partner. Krampus acts as the Bad Cop to St. Nicholas's Good Cop, warning and punishing bad children, in contrast to St. Nicholas, who instead rewards good children.
In the Alpine regions, Krampus takes the form of a giant demon covered in goat, bear or ram fur, his head sporting large horns with a long, slavering tongue often hanging out of his mouth. Depending on the story, Krampus may have chained shackles on his wrists, signifying his enslavement to St. Nicholas. Generally though, Krampus will be wearing several large bells (as a warning to any who hear them that he's coming), along with a large wicker basket and birch rod. If someone has been bad, Krampus will either threaten a beating with his birch rod or actually give one. If his target has been particularly bad, then Krampus stuffs them into his wicker basket, and drags them off to punish them for their crimes. Depending on the story, Krampus will either bring them to St. Nicholas's home, Krampus's own mountain underworld, Hell, or mid 12th century Moorish/Muslim Spain.
Traditionally, young men in Southern Germany, Austria, Hungary, Switzerland, Slovenia, and even Northern Italy dress up as the Krampus during the first two weeks of December, particularly on the evening of December 5, and roam the streets in grand, sweeping parades through town. Often, they will go after adults in the audience who are in on the fun, especially tourists encountering their first "Krampus Parade" or attractive young women. Curiously, despite their fearsome appearance and reputation, the (plural) Krampusi are generally fairly kind to children, generally exempting them from the schenanigans they pull on the adults.
Despite the frightening overtones, Krampus is quite a popular character in the Alpine countries. He brings some harmless "scary" fun to the Christmas season, not unlike what happens at Halloween. He is also not alone as the companion of St. Nicholas. Compare him with Knecht Ruprecht
, a German character who performs a similar role (though more as a stern authority figure than a nasty devil), Zwarte Piet
, a Dutch character said to put bad children in a sack and take them to Spain, the Lady Perchta
, a female version of Krampus who can either be drop-dead gorgeous
or hideously ugly
and The Yule Lads
, a group of 13 Icelandic troll-like beings who historically caused mischief during Christmas, but became more Santa Claus-like in modern times . See also Bad Santa
, which the Krampus is occasionally portrayed as.
Depictions of the Krampus in media
Anime and Manga
- On the old G4 channel, there was an old ad for one of the shows featuring Krampus. Enjoy.
- In Axis Powers Hetalia, Hungary dresses up as the Krampus every Christmas to scare Italy. He still hasn't figured out that it's her.
- 'Twas the Night Before Krampus: A Tale of St. Nicholas Christmas. A dark revamp of Santa and an even darker revamp of Krampus.
- Appears in the 2010 story "Grounded" in the erratically published Paul Dini comic Jingle Belle.
- Chickenhare has a Krampus named Banjo.
- The horror comic Grimm Fairy Tales featured the Krampus in its 2010 holiday special.
- It has been featured in almost every subsequent holiday special since its first appearance.
- Amy, Rory and Mels encounter (and defeat) the Krampus as eight year olds in the Doctor Who Magazine strip "Imaginary Enemies". However, the version depicted has very little to do with the legends - he is the Evil Counterpart of Santa and a member of the Trickster's Brigade, and he looks like a black-bearded Santa in a colour-reversed white suit with red fur trimming.
- There is a four-issue comic book series created by Brian Joines and Dean Kotz with Krampus as the main character, appropriately called Krampus.
- How The Krampus Saved Christmas is a project by Ryan L. Schrodt, Dominic Black, and Adam Wollet about Krampus setting out to save Christmas and punish Santa for letting the holiday be consumed by commercialism. It is currently in Development Hell, however. You can read the first few pages here.
- Tarot, Witch of the Black Rose has a 2013 special issue called Night of the Krampus.
- In Shadowchasers Ascension, a minor villain named Victor used a deck that included an Xyz Monster based on the character; Ophelia was the only one who recognized the reference, leading to this exchange:
Ophelia: ...but it was a rather scary story, and not too pleasant to tell during the holidays, so the legend of Krampus was rarely mentioned outside of the Alpine countries, while everywhere else, St. Nicholas evolved into jolly old Santa Claus, a guy who would never dream of using such scare tactics.
Dante: Maybe it would have been a good idea… A guy like this might have convinced kids to behave more than Santa threatening to leave coal in their stockings.
- Krampus is a semi-popular monster for custom dolls and original characters in the Monster High franchise.
- Given the nature of The Guardians of Childhood book series and its movie adaptation Rise of the Guardians, it's inevitable that there would be many fanfictions/fanarts/ocs based on the Krampus.
- Night of the Krampus has the Krampus kidnapping children and a team of supernatural investigators going after him.
- Kranky Klaus is a documentary of an Austrian Krampus tradition.
- The card game Munchkin has an expansion called Waiting For Santa. There's a card for the Krampus in it.
- Yu-Gi-Oh! has Santa Claws, which is the Krampus in a Santa outfit.
- In Krampus: The Yule Lord, the plot revolves around a feud between Santa and Krampus. The two are depicted as a bit more morally ambiguous in this tale.
- Krampus: A Christmas Tale by Phil Ives is a retelling of the tale for children.
- The Moonlight Monsters Detective Agency has a Christmas story that revolves around a bunch of Krampus that are masquerading as mall Santas.
- The Claus Effect by David Nickel and Karl Schroeder, which makes Santa a sadistic monster and Krampus... better.
- The Spirit of Krampus, a short story written by Kate Danley, in which the titular spirit infects all the adult and a young boy named Skip goes to find Santa Claus to fix things.
- Olivia Black wrote a children's adventure book called The Return of Knecht Ruprecht. where three children help Santa Claus fight off the army of the Krampus.
- You Better Not Cry by Miriam Soumiyè
- Krampus is a character in Annalina: The Untold Story of Mrs Claus
- The Krampus Night Before Christmas and A Visit From Krampus is a two-part book series by Clement Gore.
- Of Christmas Present by Thomm Quackenbush has Krampus try to have an alchoholic Salvation Army Santa be the new Santa.
- The Winter Witch and the Krampus: A Christmas Tale by J.P. Reedman.
- Untouchable by Alice Janell is the first of the Everwinter series and features a couple characters who are Krampusi (Rattagan and Drosselmeyer)
- The Elf Who Saved Christmas: A (Sweet) Horror Novella by Rebecca M Senese.
- Krampus is mentioned, talked about, and the inspiration for the protagonist's band name in Krampus by Shona Mc Aleese.
- Like Coal for Krampus by Scotty Schrier
- The Pyhäraapia by Craig Allen Reade
- Making Santa: Advent by Blake M. Petit has Craig Anderson taking up the mantel of a Krampus.
- Mentioned in Away for the Holidays by Elliot Arthur Cross.
- Holiday, Inc. by Anthony Caruso and L.J. Simone.
- Krampus is a monster that the heroes fight in Shark Knights
- Sol Invictus by J. Paul Roe.
- A Kiss from Krampus is an erotic story. About the Krampus. That says it all.
- More erotic stories are Punished By The Krampus by Sapphire Del Ray and Christmas Spirit by Alise Bell.
- There is also an anthology of Christmas-themed erotic stories called Sexy in Your Stocking: Twelve Erotic Tales for the Holidays. One tale of which, of course, involving Krampus.
- A Naughty Boy for Krampus is a homoerotic story about a man captured by the Krampus. There is a spin-off story called Hostel Caliente.
- Sex & Whippings Krampus Returns (Santa Klaus's Best Friend, who is Wicked and Stern) by Christopher Wauben.
- There have been many anthologies that contain short stories about the Krampus.
- The anthology book T'was The Night Before Krampus And Other Holiday Horror Stories includes the tale of the Krampus (obviously) among others.
- Everette Bell wrote many poems about the folk figure in the book Krampusnacht.
- Don't Let the Fairies Eat You: Looking for the Witch had a short story about the Krampus called Krampus the Generous.
- Deep in the Forest: A Creepy Collection of Strange Tales for Children is another short story collection that had a Krampus story in it.
- In The Pulp Work Christmas Special 2013 one short story called Malcom Destroys Christmas has a young boy teaming up with the Krampus to get revenge on Santa.
- Defy The Dark is an anthology with the short story Naughty or Nice by Myra Mc Entire being a romance about two people falling in love while fleeing the Krampus in a Bavarian festival.
- Featured in one of the short stories in Holiday Wishes
- Yet another anthology that contains a Krampus short story is Things That Go Bump for the Holidays.
- Appears in O Little Town of Deathlehem: An Anthology of Holiday Horrors for Charity.
- In Cold Dark Harbor and Other Tales of Ghosts and Monsters there is a short story called Krampusnacht.
- Shock Totem 4.5 has the story A Krampus Christmas by Ryan Bridger
- On an episode of The Colbert Report, Stephen decides to join forces with Krampus to fight the eeeeeevil liberal secularists' War on Christmas. He offers Krampus some cookies and milk, which Krampus promptly whips with a rusty chain, then threatens to drag Stephen to Hell.
- On the season 4 Christmas special of The League, Taco tries to convince the owner of a mall to add a "Mall Krampus" to accompany the mall Santa. By the end of the episode, Taco gets extremely high, dresses up as the Krampus himself, and charges into the mall to attack the mall Santa an terrorize the children. Hilarity and Groin Attacks ensue.
- The Supernatural Christmas Special featured Krampus as a suspect for Monster of the Week but it turns out to actually be two pagan solstice gods. Of course, given Krampus' probable origins, this distinction may not make much of a difference.
- History channel's eighth episode of History of the Holidays delves into, among other things, the Krampus folklore.
- Suburgatory has an episode entitled "Krampus".
- Grimm had a Christmas episode with the Krampus, taking the form of a humanoid ram with tan fur and dressed in a Santa suit. As in folklore, he kidnaps naughty children; in this version he leaves coal after taking them and keeps the kids prisoner with the intention of eating them. This Krampus was only transformed into his Wesen form around the winter solstice, and had no memory of what he did as the Krampus during that time. (or even that he's Wesen)
- The back cover of the Sunset Rubdown album Random Spirit Lover has Krampus on it.
- Musician and stand-up comedian Christopher Wauben aka Super Klaus Santa wrote a song called Krampus Night. Here's the music video.
- I Saw Mother Kissing Krampus by Gallows Humor.
- There is an Italian folk-metal band called Krampus.
- The Strange Adventures of Edgar Switchblade #1: Krampus Unmerciful is a gruesome and graphic tale from Lonesome Wyatt.
- In Armstrong, BC, one of the shows that the Caravan Farm Theatre put on was an origin story for Santa, called Old Nick and was an outdoors theater performed as the audience took a sleigh ride through the forest. Krampus played the part of the antagonist. Here's a review of the show.
- The Blue Barn Theater's Witching Hour in Omaha, NE performed a play in 2010 with Krampus in it called The Christmas Rumpus.
- In Carn Evil, Krampus acts as the boss of the Christmas stage, although here he's more a demonic green Santa Claus combined with Rudolp the Red-Nosed Reindeer.
- The Krampus was added as a boss fight in The Binding of Isaac in the Christmas update. The Krampus will randomly appear in the Devil's room with the chances of him increasing the more you visit the room and even more if you actually take items. Defeating him unlocks the unique Lump of Coal item.
- The indie game Don't Starve has the Krampus appear and steal the player's things if the player is naughty (defined here as "killing too many non-aggressive animals" like rabbits and beefalo).
- Medieval II: Total War has a mod that includes Krampus among Santa's units.
- There are two limited edition Krampus monsters on the online game Puppet Nightmares.
- Wizard101 has a spell/item card based on Krampus.
- There used to be an iTunes app game called Slay Ride wherein you play as Santa and battle the Krampus. (who is the final boss) Sadly, this game is no longer available, but you can still see the iTunes info page.
- Knights and Dragons has a seasonal Epic Boss based on Krampus, who is part of the Winter Kings event. It is a Water/Fire elemental that drops Evil Fur when defeated that can be used to create Krampus's Mantle. There is also armor called Krampus Nemesis
- In PvP, Krampus becomes Scratch Fury's new Christmas persona in the 2011 Christmas arc. Scratch, Skull's pet cat and PVP's resident evil genius, was offered the job of Krampus by Santa Claus to help out with dealing with the huge increase in naughty children , since he could no longer don his Kringus persona, considering his defeat the previous year.
- In one of Rhapsodies' annual Christmas episodes a band of Krampusi are part of the staff in the prison naughty children are taken, another year they are sent to take Kevin away.
- In Something Positive, Davan gives PeeJee the rundown on who Krampus is at one point.
- In the Vocational Death Cruise's main storyline, Krampus is Evil Santalestia as well as the secondary main villain
- The 2011 Christmas comic for Real Life Fiction.
- Krampus comes by every Christmas in the webcomic Snap Crackle Pop.
- Lottee from Bad Reputation was drawn in a Krampus costume.
- In The Venture Bros. Christmas Special, the Krampus is accidentally summoned by Hank and Dean and proceeds to punish Rusty Venture.
- The Krampus is featured in an episode of Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated, terrifying children and turning their hair white. The Krampus was actually part of a Scooby-Doo Hoax set up by the gang themselves for a Gambit to steal the pieces of the MacGuffin from the show's main antagonists.
- In the American Dad! episode "Minstrel Krampus" (the intended Christmas Episode of season 8, but pulled because of the Sandy Hook Elementary School murders and finally aired in season 10) Stan's father Jack Smith revealed that he sealed Krampus in a pot fifty years ago and that's why kids today are so rotten. Stan releases him and he kidnaps Steve. In the end Santa kills Krampus with Stan's help but it then turns out that Krampus was good and Santa evil. But Jack becomes the new Krampus.