Old-School Christmas


Krampus the Christmas demon is staging a comeback, reports Franklin Harris:

Conscripts in the War on Christmas

A scary, devilish, goat-like fellow with long horns and a bad attitude, Krampus originated centuries ago in German-speaking areas of Europe, where he was especially popular in the Alps.

While Santa bribes children into good behavior with the promise of presents, Krampus keeps them in line with threats of punishment. Santa carries a bag full of toys. Krampus carries a bag filled with naughty boys and girls….

[T]he Austrian state of Salzburg now has more than 180 Krampus clubs devoted to celebrating the long-lost Christmas figure. Most have sprung up in just the past 20 years.

Now, every Dec. 5, club members recreate the traditional Krampus celebration. They dress in ghoulish Krampus costumes and head out for a night of carousing, which sounds a lot like how adults currently celebrate Halloween in the United States.

Harris describes the Krampus revival as a European phenomenon, but I'm happy to see it has established a beachhead in San Francisco too. The broader tradition of mumming that the Krampus celebrations represent persists in a different form in Philadelphia, where the annual Mummers Parade falls on the Seventh Day of Christmas.

A few years ago an Austrian psychiatrist reportedly called for banning Krampus, on the grounds that "in a world that is anyway full of aggression, we shouldn't add figures standing for violence…and hell." The doctor doesn't seem to have gotten anywhere, to judge from the devilish figure's busy holiday schedule this year. Keep your confederates mumming, boys: Krampus is rising again!

NEXT: Yahoo! and Verizon: How Much Do the Feds Pay Us to Help Them Spy On You? You Don't Wanna Know!

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Great Uncle Warty pic.

  2. That pic brought back memories of my time as an altar-boy.

    1. That pic brought back memories of my time as an altar-boy.


      I dont know what would bring back the memories of sitting in a car at a grave yard with 2 other alter boys and Father O'Conner while he chain smoked a pack of cigarettes and told us world war 2 stories.

    2. I think I saw that movie:

      13 Going Down On 30.

  3. But what about Jesus's evil twin, Pagus?

  4. 'Keep your confederates mumming, boys: Krampus is rising again!'


    Nice pun!

  5. Krampus keeps them in line with threats of punishment.

    So he's kinda like a Republican version of Santa.

    1. It's telling that you are associated with a dude whose name sounds like "cramps". You're the goddess of the menstrual cycle, aren't you?

      1. Yes, I have my red wings, if that's what you're asking.

        1. Good one, Warty. Haven't heard that in years.

  6. I wonder what the Urkobold has to say about this...

    1. I believe Krampus does contract work for the Urkobold. Krampus bags the kids and transports them to Taintsville for taint withering.

      1. Is Taintsville not quite the North Pole, but not quite the South Pole either?

        1. It's in Florida, near Orlando.

  7. 'A few years ago an Austrian psychiatrist reportedly called for banning Krampus, on the grounds that "in a world that is anyway full of aggression, we shouldn't add figures standing for violence...and hell."'

    Yeah, look how healthy and peaceful the Germans and Austrians became after they abandoned their old-fashioned beliefs about evildoers getting punished in an afterlife!

    1. If you are referring to the Nazis: Most of them regarded themselves as Christians. Hitler introduced a church tax (which is paid TO the churches, not by them). Why do you think the Germans were so eager to kill the Jews? Because they killed Jesus! (Or so they thought.) Communism, yes this abandoned religion, but the Austrians were never Communist, and the GDR never started wars. Stop the cheap shots against Atheism.

      1. You mentioned atheism, not I. I was referring to the doctrine of Hell.

        From National Socialist thinker Alfred Rosenberg's The Myth of the Twentieth Century:

        'Since nothing is spared in the pictures of Hell . . . so Rome enchains the hopes of frightened millions to its rites by experiment.'

        Like many up-to-date, modern religious types, the National Socialists wanted a religion without Hell. They would have been quite indignant at being called atheists, although one could certainly argue their doctrines were morally equivalent.

        Ask some Episcopelian or mainline Presbyterian if he or she believes in Hell. If they say no (and you should probably be able to find one who does, if your acquaintance is wide enough), then add, 'well, then, you must be an atheist like me! Welcome to the club!' See how they react.

        1. 'National Socialist and Christian conceptions are incompatible. The Christian churches build upon men's ignorance; by contrast N[ational Socialism] rests upon scientific foundations.

          'When we [National Socialists] speak of belief in God, we do not mean, like the naive Christians and their spiritual exploiters, a man-like being sitting around somewhere in the universe. The force governed by natural law by which all these countless planets move in the universe, we call omnipotence or God. The assertion that this universal force can trouble itself about the destiny of each individual being, every smallest earthly bacillus, can be influenced by so-called prayers or other surprising things, depends upon a requisite dose of naivety or else upon shameless professional self-interest.'

          Martin Bormann

          1. Note - Bormann's version of God couldn't trouble itself with the destiny of individual beings. So Bormann did *not* hold old-fashioned beliefs about evildoers being punished in an afterlife.

        2. That man is universally saved was the central tenet of Universalism. To be sure, today many Unitarian-Universalists are atheists, but historically they were Christians.

      2. Actually, Patrick, the Nazis co-opted the Christian religions to create a new state religion. They only paid lip service to Christianity, because it served their purposes.

        And I am telling you this as a fellow atheist (ok, agnostic.)

      3. "Because they killed Jesus! (Or so they thought.)"

        At the very least, they were complicit.

      4. Why do you think the Germans were so eager to kill the Jews? Because they killed Jesus!

        Not even remotely true. The Nazis hated the Jews because they had lots of property and were the largest visible minority in Germany. They hated plenty of other racial and religious groups also, but you weren't going to get far in 1930s German politics by spewing hatred against Bushmen.

    2. You know the Nazis were against abortion bout them Godwins?

      1. True. And while they were fine with killing gay men, then were okay with lesbians as they represented "wombs for the fatherland".

      2. Their attitude was that abortions were bad for Aryan women carrying pure Aryan children, but OK (pre-or post-natally) for Jews and Slavs.

  8. I'm happy to see it has established a beachhead in San Francisco too.

    I take it you didn't read that band lineup. Or you're looking to poach some Girls Gone Approximately Wild off the pimp-costumed fratboys who drove them into the city, and you just found your treasure map. That's cool.

  9. The Venture Bros nailed it. The brothers were so innocent back then. *sniffsniff*

    1. Fuck yeah, that episode was fantastic!

  10. We need more myths and legends that come in the night and take children away. Such beings fell out of favor in the last 30 years, but as a child I was told of the man who steals bad children and puts them on a boat to China, the Old Communist Man who eats children (a nun told me that one), and the crazy bat lady on the corner who feeds kids to the swarm of bats in her attic.

    Can we get a BroadView Security ad with this trope? The Child Catcher from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang kicks in the door and is frightened off by the house alarm...

    1. Hellfire. with every stranger beinga pedo, we have more than enough baddies for lil johnny to worry over.

    2. I've seen the equivalent on a ghetto train ride. There were two cops on the train. They weren't even transit cops, just cops. There was also a black family with a very unruly 3-year-old (not that I mind if kids are unruly). But to get the kid to settle down, she pointed to the two cops saying, "if you don't sit down those two men are going to take you away."

      1. I am oh-so-glad you didn't leave out any details, no matter how relevant.

    3. when i'm naughty, my mother tells me about the lonewacko. i get good real fast.

  11. This is kind of like Sinterklaas in Holland, where Santa is a skinny retired bishop from turkey who retired to spain, and then comes to holland with his slave (Zwarte Piet) Black Piet (someone in horribly offensive/hilarious blackface) who kidnap, beat, and enslave bad children.

  12. I think I'm going to celebrate with the Dutch:,00.html

    1. You know what I like about celebrating with the Dutch? Their women:

  13. awesome

  14. Skwisgaar Skwigelf: Hey Pickle, tell Murderface what you just told me about that guy.
    Pickles the Drummer: Oh, right.
    Skwisgaar Skwigelf: It's hilarious.
    Pickles the Drummer: That dude he headbutted? That guy was a Danish prince! Can you believe that?
    Skwisgaar Skwigelf: [disgustedly] Pfft. The Dutch.
    Pickles the Drummer: Oh, check it out, he's got a brain contusion and a fractured skull. Oh, and he's last in line for the Danish royalty. That is messed up, dude.
    William Murderface: Well, that's what he gets for goin' after my hog.
    Pickles the Drummer: Awesome.
    Skwisgaar Skwigelf: Dude, I would've done the same thing. [rolls his eyes] Dutch.

  15. Maybe this is a tradidition we don't want revived. The Mummer's parade was based on a different dark and satanic figure: the average black dude!

    Seriously, for years the parade was just racist minstrelry. If you go to the Mummer's Museum in Philadelphia, you can find pictures of mummer's in their Al Jolson-esque costumes.

    1. It's a curious convergence. European mummers blackened their faces for reasons that didn't have anything to do with race. In America those traditions get mixed up with minstrelsy, which of course has different origins.

      1. Likely story, mummer-lover. How do you explain the banjos then?

        And the feathers and the rhinestones?

        And the fact that sheet-metal workers are dressing like Liberace?

        1. How do you explain the banjos then?

          Just in case it wasn't clear: When I said those older traditions got "mixed up with minstrelsy," I was saying that minstrelsy became a part of the mix, not that one was mistaken for the other. (It's not just blackface and banjos. Mummers were singing songs from minstrel shows.)

          And the fact that sheet-metal workers are dressing like Liberace?

          Sheet metal has always been America's most flamboyant industry.

          1. Try "conflated" next time, Jesse.

        2. And the fact that sheet-metal workers are dressing like Liberace?

          I thought it was the entire steel industry was gay?

  16. This is sort of like Tomte in Sweden.



    1. IK ben pist op uw taint, teef.


  18. Looks like Obama.

  19. "Santa carries a bag full of toys. Krampus carries a bag filled with naughty boys and girls...."

    Any chance Krampus could swing by my place and drop off a two or three o' them naughty girls?

    Merry Christmas to me.

  20. I carved a turnip this year for Halloween and looks like I will be celebrating Krampus this year for xmas too!
    and Abdul, are you thinking of Black Pete?

  21. No Venture Bros references. Well, too bad, I'm not diggin em out for you naughty boys and girls.

    1. OH, points to Warty though for some Dethklok.

  22. Anyone else here parse the URI as "deca turd ail y"?

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.