Come Christmas Eve, children throughout the world will patiently await a big, bearded man in a bright red suit. He travels by herd of reindeer and promises gifts for every good boy and girl. Polite and patient children can rejoice at the sight of Santa Claus, but the ill-behaved have a different holiday icon to answer to: a horned, demonic creature by the name of Krampus.
Who is Krampus?
Described as “half goat, half-demon,” Krampus is a Christmas creature who punishes children who have misbehaved. While Saint Nicholas rewards good children with gifts, Krampus swats bad children with bundles of birch branches he carries on his belt. It isn’t certain when the folklore began, but it’s theorized to date back to pre-Christian traditions. Krampus is commonly depicted as a hairy, horned creature with hooves, horns, and a man’s face.
On December 5th, Krampus comes to life in Bavaria and much of Eastern Europe. Men and women dress as Krampus (horns, hair, hooves, etc.) and run through the streets to scare young children. Participants in this unusual holiday traditionally enjoy Krampus schnapps, a strong distilled fruit brandy.
Krampus & Saint Nicholas
Saint Nicholas and Krampus can often be sighted together in children’s stories and Christmas drawings. Krampus acts as Saint Nicholas’ evil companion, and folklore describes tales of the two visiting children together. In parts of Europe, participants traditionally dress as both Saint Nicholas and Krampus during Krampusnacht.
A Year-Round Reminder
In some European countries, Krampus acts as a year-round reminder for young children. Parents mysteriously delivery birch sticks to children when they misbehave, and then hang the birch sticks up on the wall to remind young children to be kind throughout the year.
Explore Europe with AESU
AESU offers unique, thrilling travel programs for college students and young professionals at affordable rates. Each trip is action-packed and informal—designed just for people your own age. We are also able to design custom tours just for your group.
If you have any questions or want help booking your next London adventure, please contact AESU by calling 800-638-7640, or fill out the contact form found on our website!