Christmas figure in Alpine folklore / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Krampus is a horned, anthropomorphic figure in the Central and Eastern Alpine folklore of Europe who, during the Advent season, scares children who have misbehaved. Assisting Saint Nicholas, or Santa Claus, the pair visit children on the night of 6 December, with Saint Nicholas rewarding the well-behaved children with gifts such as oranges, dried fruit, walnuts and chocolate, while the badly behaved ones only receive punishment from Krampus with birch rods. Krampus day itself, on the other hand, is on the 5th of December.[1]

1900s illustration of Saint Nicholas and Krampus visiting a child

The origin of the figure is unclear; some folklorists and anthropologists have postulated it as having pre-Christian origins.[2] In traditional parades and in such events as the Krampuslauf (English: Krampus run), young men dressed as Krampus attempt to scare the audience with their antics.[3] Such events occur annually in most Alpine towns.[4] Krampus is featured on holiday greeting cards called Krampuskarten.

The figure has been imported into American popular culture, and has appeared in movies, TV and video games.