Yep, you guessed it– Krampus!
Who is Krampus? On the very slim chance you haven’t wikipedia’d Krampus before (I’m sure you have), here’s a rundown: Krampus has been paired with St. Nicholas/Santa since the advent of Christianity in Germanic countries (the Krampus figure is rooted in Germanic Pagan folklore). He is depicted similarly to the Christian devil or Pan– he’s horned and otherwise goat-like, has an exceptionally long tongue, is chained (thought to represent Christianity’s attempt to chain paganism/the devil), and carries a bundle of birch branches that he swats children with. While St. Nicholas brings gifts to the “nice” children, Krampus punishes “naughty” children (and it looks like he really enjoys it). Basically, Krampus is the Mr. Hyde to Santa’s Dr. Jekyll.
But he’s not just a thing of the Alpine Pagan past, nor is he confined to these hilarious vintage postcards (they have their own name: krampuskarten). He’s alive and well in 2014. Much like Santa, people dress up as Krampus every year in early December. Unlike Santa, these guys intentionally terrify children. Here are some stunning photographs of men dressed as Krampus during “Krampuslauf” parades in Bavaria and Tyrol:
If you liked these pictures, you may be interested in checking out photographer Charles Freger’s “Wilder Mann” Series, which looks at Pagan traditions still being practiced in Europe and the amazing costumes people wear to represent the mythological figure of the “wild man”. It’s stunning, surprising, and awesome.
Have a Krampus Christmas!