We all know of the
"holiday" sacrilege committed against Saint Basil the Great in
Greece - (no) thanks to the imported and over-advertised cartoon
character called "Santa Claus" ("Saint Nicholas" for Westerners).
In their passion to mimic the West, certain anti-Orthodox Greeks
linked Santa to the person of Saint Basil, in total disregard to his
holy character and his actual, blessed benefactions.
Thankfully, no such sacrilege against the Nativity celebrations has
prevailed in our country (at least so far), with a satanic figure
like the horned Krampus playing a central role. The reason we
are posting the article below, is essentially to give an idea of the
magnitude of the sacrilege committed in the West against the persons
of the real Saints Nicholas and Basil, by comparing them with pagan
forms of old.
In ancient times, a dark, hairy, horned beast was said to show up at
the door to beat children, and carry them off in his sharp claws.
The Krampus could be heard in the night by the sound of his echoing
cloven hooves and his rattling iron chains. The strangest part was
that he was in league with Santa Claus.
The Christmas Terror
The unnerving beast was no demon, however. He was the mythical
Krampus, companion to Saint Nicholas (known as Santa Claus, Father
Christmas, Kris Kringle,
While Saint Nicholas now has the reputation of loving all children
and visiting them at Christmastime, judging their character and
giving gifts to the ‘nice’ ones and lumps of coal to the ‘naughty’
ones, Krampus plays the dangerous sidekick.
It is believed that the long-horned, shaggy, goat-like monster with
a long, angry face and lolling, forked tongue would visit the home
of misbehaving children to punish them. It was believed he would
give beatings, and kidnap the kids, bringing them down to his
underworld lair to live for a year. According to the centuries-old
legends, if a child misbehaved, Saint Nicholas, in his omni science,
would know and send his associate, Krampus. It was said this dark
partner with a serpentine tail would turn up to the house during the
Christmas season to punish the wicked child; He would beat him with
a bundle of birch sticks, whip them with horse hair, and throw him
into a sack or wicker basket to take him down to Hell for a year.
A 1900s greeting card reading: 'Greetings
from the Krampus!'
If being good for Santa wasn’t enough for a delinquent, Krampus’
reputation and fearsome appearance terrified children into behaving.
As such, it was a useful tale told to children to scare them into
The Legendary Origins
Historians remain unsure as to the exact origins of the Krampus
figure in folklore, but it is believed that like Santa, Krampus
predates Christianity, stemming from Norse and Alpine traditions and
Germanic paganism. Like many legendary characters, including St.
Nicholas himself, Krampus’ image has evolved over time and
throughout regions, but Krampus represented a balance of light and
dark, providing a harmony between good and evil.
Folk tale depiction of Father Christmas riding on a goat.
On Krampus Night, or Krampusnacht, the eve of December 5, German
children took care to not attract the attention of the intimidating
beast, in hopes that St. Nicholas would bring presents
According to National Geographic, Krampus is believed to be the son
of Hel in Norse mythology (Hel, daughter of Loki and overseer of the
land of the dead).
His name is derived from the German word krampen, meaning claw. He
shares traits with other figures in Greek mythology, such as satyrs
and fauns, and has been portrayed in a salacious manner in late
19th century greeting cards, lusting after buxom women.
Feared and Loved
The myth of Krampus can be found in the Alpine regions, Austria,
Germany, Hungary, Slovenia, and the Czech Republic, and the legend
has gained long legs, reaching across Europe and around the world.
Families traditionally exchanged colorful greeting cards called Krampuskarten, since
the 1800s featuring the sometimes silly, sometimes sinister Krampus.
In the early 20th century Krampus was prohibited by the Austrian
Fascist government, but the tradition was revived with the fall of
the government after World War II. Traditional annual parades are
still held in which young men dress as the Krampus, and race through
the streets snarling and shaking chains at onlookers.
Krampus parade in Pörtschach am Wörthersee, Austria, 2013.
Many cities and towns, in keeping with old tradition, run a popular Krampuslauf, a
sizeable gathering of revelers (largely fortified by
alcoholic schnapps) dressed in Krampus costume to chase people
through the streets.
More than 1200 Austrians gather in Schladming, Styria each year to
dress up as Krampus, swatting passers-by with sticks and loudly
Birch sticks are painted gold and displayed to remind of his
arrival. These days on Krampusnacht, Krampus will commonly accompany
St. Nicholas to homes and businesses where St. Nicholas will give
out gifts, and Krampus will hand out coal and birch stick bundles.
Revellers dressed as Krampus in Austria and Italy –
a centuries-old tradition now enjoyed in places around the world.
In addition to Krampus, Santa traditionally enjoyed a host of
different companions depending on region and culture, reflecting
local history and beliefs. These mythical figures have many common
traits, and generally play the role of punisher or abductor, in
contrast to the benevolent and generous saint. They often carried a
rod, stick, or broom, were usually dressed in black rags, and were
shaggy, with unruly hair.
Elves, kobolds, or pre-Christian house-spirits of English and
Scandinavian tradition were believed to be gift makers or bringers,
but didn’t share the same elevated status as Saint Nick and his
In Germany, Knecht Ruprecht (Farmhand Ruprecht, Servant
Ruprecht) was an old man with a long beard dressed in straw or
covered in fur.
He accompanied St. Nicholas and carried a bag of ashes, and one
might hear his coming due to the ringing of tiny bells sewn into his
clothing. Knecht Ruprecht expected children to be able to recite
Christian catechism or say their prayers, whereupon he would give
them fruit or gingerbread. If they hadn’t learned their lessons, it
was said he’d leave them a stick or a lump of coal in their shoes at
best, and at worst he’d place the children in a sack, and either eat
them or throw them in a river. Ruprecht became a common name for the
devil in German.
In Palatinate, Germany, as well as Pennsylvania in the United
States, and in the east coast of Canada the companion is named
A scary figure, much like Knecht Ruprect, this partner visits at
Christmas and hands out gifts or punishments. In some regions, this
figure is dressed as a female, and called the Christmas Woman. She
is thoroughly disguised in female clothing, with cloth wrapped
around the head and face, and carries sweets and cakes, as well as a
long switch which acts like a swatting stick, or a charmed wand.
Drawing of the Belsnickel by Ralph Dunkleberger
Zwarte Piet (Black Pete) is an old mythical figure of Belgium,
Netherlands and Luxembourg who has become a controversial figure in
Traditionally a blackamoor (African male figure usually symbolizing
a servant), he was characterized as a Moor from Spain, and a helper
to St. Nicholas who was to amuse children and give candy.
Actors portraying Zwarte Piet would wear ‘blackface’—dark makeup,
curly black wigs and red lipstick—a practice which is now seen as a
Appearances of Zwarte Piet are now protested in the Netherlands.
Sinterklaas and Zwarte Piet
The legend of Krampus isn’t in fear of dying out, as it is in fact
gaining in popularity, even though there are those who believe the
devil-like Krampus figure is inappropriate for children, or he is
believed to have been altered to suit modern anti-Christmas
“Like it or not, the modern image Krampus has been hijacked from all
good intentions he may have enjoyed in folklore.
He is cemented now in several cultures as a monster alone with no
good to be imposed on anyone by his presence. He is the
personification of fear and the ultimate Christmas nightmare – much
to the delight of adults who want to act like the very children
Krampus was intended to correct,” writes the editor of
MyMerryChristmas.com. It is good to remember that Krampus, while
appearing to be a demon, is not the anti-Santa however. Since
ancient times he has worked alongside Santa, to ensure that people
had respect, behaved and were good to each other (in his own
What better holiday sentiment can there be?