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Thread: Who Is Krampus? Explaining the Horrific Christmas Devil

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    Who Is Krampus? Explaining the Horrific Christmas Devil

    The mythical Krampus is meant to whip children into being nice.







    Bad Santa, meet Krampus: a half-goat, half-demon, horrific beast who literally beats people into being nice and not naughty.

    Krampus isn't exactly the stuff of dreams: 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. He then hauls the bad kids down to the underworld. (Read "How Krampus, the Christmas ‘Devil,’ Became Cool.")

    We wondered: What are the origins of this "Christmas Devil"?

    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).

    A more modern take on the tradition in Austria, Germany, Hungary, Slovenia, and the Czech Republic involves drunken men dressed as devils, who take over the streets for a Krampuslauf—a Krampus Run of sorts, when people are chased through the streets by the "devils."

    Why scare children with a demonic, pagan monster? Maybe it's a way for humans to get in touch with their animalistic side.

    Such impulses may be about assuming "a dual personality," according to António Carneiro, who spoke to National Geographic magazine earlier this year about revitalized pagan traditions. The person dressed as the beast "becomes mysterious," he said.

    Lump of Coal Preferred?

    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. National Geographic has even published a book in German about the devilish Christmas beast.

    In the U.S., people are buying into the trend with Krampus parties. Monday night's episode of American Dad, called "Minstrel Krampus," highlighted the growing movement of anti-Christmas celebrations.

    For its part, Austria is attempting to commercialize the harsh persona of Krampus by selling chocolates, figurines, and collectible horns. So there are already complaints that Krampus is becoming too commercialized.

    Looks like Santa might have some competition.
    Source with more pictures

    Happy Krampus night!

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    Why was Krampus considered a creation of the Social Democrats by the Nazis?

    Besides how old is Hel? A personified Christian Hell? I do not think she is a result of Christinisation nor Nehellenia but a late Vainakh borowing from when the Goths were on the steppes: Hel is present in Chechen mythology and Helen was a death goddess at Leuke alongside Achilles Pontarches. She must be no older than the Migration Age when East Germanics formerly a Cossack-type steppe people migrated west. Throw in Helain/Elaine from the Arthurian canon which as we know is largely Migration Period and Eurasian in corpus. HED thought hel is generally used simply to signify death or the grave though certain supernatural women connected with death might have become conflated and in Gylfaginning Hel beaves as a ruler of the underworld. Simek and Lindow are similarly critical of the sources. Though there is OE helle-rune glossed as necromancer and OHG helli-runa related to a Latinised Gothic word (halliarunnae) in Jordanes who describes a witch panic in Gothia none of these demonstrate a single goddess figure.

    The wild man guises by the way are not uniquely Alpine nor Germanic. Though as Grimm noticed the Alps are different when it comes to folklore: Alpine folklore belongs to a region that reaches the Basque Pyrenees across to the Hindu Kush for example the local use of the Pelops motif. Alpine =/= Norse. The Scandinavians came under Uralic influence. Germanics in the Alps acquired an earlier mountaineer substrate noted for mountain Masters of Animals. (Remember in historical times there were non-IE languages in the Alps.) Likely Krampus has his origins in a local ibex good worshipped by hunters but with such folk customs (like the nearby Badalisc) much is uncertain.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Catterick View Post
    Why was Krampus considered a creation of the Social Democrats by the Nazis?
    My only guess would be that there may have been drunken festivities involved or some other petty reason?

    The Nationalsocialist banned or attempted to ban some things that were Germanic, usually loosely based on little or no evidence. Fraktur script is another example of this.

    Very true Krampus is without a doubt pre-social democrat era.
    Life is like a fire hydrant- sometimes you help people put out their fires, but most of the time you just get peed on by every dog in the neighborhood.

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    The ritual capture of the badalisc has strong similarities with the Bosinada in which a storyteller blamed the misdeeds of the community. Though the ethnicity in question is Italian (Romance) it is insightful to compare it to Loki's behaviour and binding. Was Snorri recalling a seasonal ritual drama? For what it is worth it has been suggested the binding of Loki's son Fenrir has an Etruscan artistic prototype.

    I surely don't need to point out the seasonal wildman guises around Europe. At least one photographic book has been printed of them. Roslyn Frank after looking at the Basque and Sardinian wildman performances turned to the Grmanic 'straw bears' and she traced them back to a Paleolithic prototype surviving the Bear's Son tale type and good luck visits. Frank uses this as evidence of Paleolithic continuity in Europe but given the same complex is found in East Asia and the New World it is predicted part of the Black Sea steppe and Neolithic Anatolian cultural packages as well. Bears were of immense cultural significance in *PIE (for example the Hittites) and Franks own research on the Mamutzones-Mamozaurre - obviously cognate words in unrelated Sardinian and Basque - suggest a possible correspondence with the ancient European farmers such as Oetzi.

    https://www.academia.edu/7204686/Did...inary_evidence

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    Quote Originally Posted by Catterick View Post
    Likely Krampus has his origins in a local ibex good worshipped by hunters but with such folk customs (like the nearby Badalisc) much is uncertain.
    This seems a bit far fetched in my view. Throughout the middle ages horns have been associated with the devil. This was probably a reinterpretation of pagan archetypes, but to me it seems much more plausible that this general reinterpretation was at the source of many demonic figures throughout Europe or at least has kept pagan imagery alive. But to relate Krampus to a specific pre-christian alpine cult on the basis of the appearance alone overlooks other more recent factors. For example in the Dutch and Flemish provinces of Limburg (and some adjacent areas in Germany and Brabant) in the eighteenth century there were criminal gangs which were told to travel the sky on the back of flying goats, a reflection of the pact with the devil that was (said to be) made by these gangmembers (See Wikipedia). And this took place at quite a distance from the alps.

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