Happy Krampusnacht! I learned of Krampus a few years ago and I can see how terrifying this folklore could be for adults and children alike. Although from what I have learned Krampus festivals throughout Alpine communities kick off the holiday season with townspeople dressing in Krampus costumes, running through the streets and putting a scare into the children. After the children have been given a good fright to ensure they stay on the nice list, the wild Krampus are rewarded with holiday spirits, traditionally beer and schnapps. In fact, Krampus celebrations have become so popular that they can last for days before the arrival of Saint Nicholas on December 6th. In other words it might just be a good excuse to drink beer!
Originating in Germanic folklore as early as the 1600s, Krampus is believed to be a beastial creature who accompanies St. Nicholas on his annual journey. While St. Nicholas rewards the good children with gifts and sweets, Krampus dispenses punishment to the wicked children who have strayed from the path of good. It is said he takes care of St. Nick's "naughty list."
Bearing horns, dark hair, and fangs, the anti-St. Nicholas comes with a chain and bells that he lashes about, along with a bundle of birch sticks meant to swat naughty children.
I also read that Krampus's frightening presence was suppressed for many years—the Catholic Church forbade the raucous celebrations, and fascists in World War II Europe found Krampus despicable because it was considered a creation of the Social Democrats. But Krampus is making a comeback now, thanks partly to a "bah, humbug" attitude in pop culture, with people searching for ways to celebrate the yuletide season in non-traditional ways. You can now purchase everything from Krampus chocolates, figurines, and collectible horns in addition to t-shirts, movies, scarves, books, stockings, greeting cards, pillows and nutcrackers. So put up your Krampus tree topper and sit down with your favorite Ale. Happy Krampusnacht only comes once a year!