It’s the evening of December 5. Do you know where the naughty children are? Krampusnacht, or Krampus Night, is the night a mighty horned demon comes to collect and punish mischievous children prior to the Feast of St. Nicholas, celebrated in parts of Europe on Dec. 6. The modern celebration of Krampus Night involves a parade of revelers dressed in furry suits covered with bells and custom made masks often made of wood. They make noise, drawing large crowds, scaring and chasing children (and adults) about. They carry sticks to dole out punishment or fiery bonfires light the dark night.
Though mainly celebrated in Europe, the tradition of Krampus Night has been spreading through America, thanks to the growing Halloween fan base that wants to carry the frightful stuff a little further into Autumn. Need proof? Check out the brilliant film by director Michael Dougherty, Krampus, released in 2015. Throughout American Krampus celebrations are becoming increasingly popular (seawitchbotanicals.com).
Krampus itself comes from folklore that dates back over thousands years to pre-Christian times in Europe. According to some anthropologists, Krampus likely derived from a Wiccan deity called the Horned God of the Witches. The horned devil would eventually find itself in medieval plays in the 11th century, taking its familiar visage of half goat/half man. In an attempt to wipe out European pagan beliefs, the supernatural being was assimilated into Christian ideology and shown as a corrupter of souls. But a good scary story rarely fades away. From there St. Nicholas and Krampus would work side by side, rewarding the nice or punishing the naught children.