Here in America people are already freaking out about the war on Christmas and how the evil liberal atheists are white-washing any form of Christianity from our culture. Meanwhile, over in Germany and other parts of Europe Krampus (Belsnickel) is making an epic comeback into pop culture.
Who is Krampus
Krampus is the companion and dirty deeds worker for Santa or St. Nicholas. He is often used to scare kids into good behavior. Saint Nick leaves Krampus to the job of punishing bad children by sending them to a hell, bound and shackled. This Horned Creature is also known as Krampus and many other names across the world.
(I.E. Belsnickel, Knecht Ruprecht, Certa, Perchten, Black Peter, Schmutzli, Pelznickel, Klaubauf, and Krampus.)
Perhaps the comeback of this creature might have something to do with the decade long TV show, The Office, where Dwight Shrute is known to dress up as the Belznickel version every year.
Origins of Krampus
Krampus, whose name is derived from the German word krampen, meaning claw, is said to be the son of Hel in Norse mythology. The legendary beast also shares characteristics with other scary, demonic creatures in Greek mythology, including satyrs and fauns.
The legend is part of a centuries-old Christmas tradition in Germany, where Christmas celebrations begin in early December.Krampus was created as a counterpart to kindly St. Nicholas, who rewarded children with sweets. Krampus, in contrast, would swat “wicked” children and take them away to his lair.According to folklore, Krampus purportedly shows up in towns the night before December 6, known as Krampusnacht, or Krampus Night. December 6 also happens to be Nikolaustag, or St. Nicholas Day, when German children look outside their door to see if the shoe or boot they’d left out the night before contains either presents (a reward for good behavior) or a rod (bad behavior).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.
Krampus and Christianity
One may wonder why Krampus has been depicted with Saint Nicholas so often. His appearance is quite odd since Saint Nicholas is a godly man who wouldn’t have kept company with such creatures. Many even see it as demonic which makes things quite interesting since was adopted by the church in certain regions. But his origin was not seen as demonic at all. It was initially a way of scaring kids straight. The antithesis of Saint Nick was Krampus.
It’s the old Deuteronomy “blessings or curses” method. Act right and you get blessings. Act bad and you get carried away to your doom by Krampus. While I do not think this is a good way of keeping the kids in line, it is somewhat accurate to what we believe as Christians.
I do not particularly think that people should worry about the resurgence of Krampus, as he is just a pop culture icon at this point. But Krampu should remind us that both halloween and Christmas contain non-Christian elements and mixing with a pagan holiday traditions. As with every Christian holiday it would be wise to practice the Christian part and dismiss the pagan parts.
Though, reminding others that Krampus is coming for you if you act up is kind of fun. And maybe the Krampus comeback is a good way of reminding people that they have a choice to be naughty or nice and each choice has it’s own consequences.
Krampus Photo Gallery