• Germany's news in English

Krampus: Christmas' most terrifying tradition

Alex Evans · 5 Dec 2013, 08:13

Published: 05 Dec 2013 08:13 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Santa Claus may already be preparing to carry presents to good children everywhere, but in southern Germany another legendary character has different ideas.

The legendary Krampus, usually described as a beast-like, demonic figure with long goats' horns and straggly hair, comes to capture naughty children and carries them off in a sack to his mountain lair, according to Alpine tradition.

CLICK HERE to see a gallery of Germany's scariest Christmas character

Stories of the Krampus talk of him coming out to punish bad children around the eve of St. Nicholas' day.

Traditionally young men across south Bavaria, as well as south Tyrol and Austria don big hairy costumes and horned masks during the first week of December to act the part of the fearsome creature in an especially scary pre-Christmas celebration of Germanic folklore.

Dressing up as the Krampus, or his fellow monster the noisy, gnarly-faced Perchten, has been part of southern German tradition for centuries but in recent years the practice has caused a stir, with the troll-like Perchten banned from a Christmas market in Wolfratshausen, Bavaria in 2008 for scaring children into "crying fits," according to Munich's Tageszeitung newspaper.

However, friends of the gruesome beasts said a little scare was no bad thing.

Story continues below…

"Children are also scared of Santa Claus," said Captain Ewald Brückl of the mountain preservation organization of Wolfratshausen, a group working to keep old Alpine traditions like the Krampus alive.

Parents shouldn't really blame fairytale characters for kids' tantrums when "they let their children see other horrifying things on television and the internet," Brückl added.

READ MORE: The Local's guide to Germany's Christmas markets

For more news from Germany, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Alex Evans (news@thelocal.de)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Hostility towards minorities 'widespread in Bavaria'
A village in southern Bavaria. Photo: DPA.

Hate and hostility towards groups deemed to be different are not just sentiments felt by fringe extremists, a new report on Bavaria shows.

Hated RB Leipzig emerge as shock challengers to Bayern
RB Leipzig. Photo: DPA

RB Leipzig's remarkable unbeaten start to the Bundesliga season has seen them suddenly emerge at the head of the pack chasing reigning champions and league leaders Bayern Munich.

Munich taxi driver in hospital after attack by British tourists
Photo: DPA

A taxi driver had to be hospitalized in Munich on Monday evening after three British tourists refused to pay their fare and then attacked him.

German police carry out nationwide anti-terror raids
Police outside a building in Jena during raids on Tuesday. Photo: DPA

Police forces in five German states carried out raids on Tuesday morning with the aim of tackling the financing of terror groups, police in Thuringia have reported.

The Local List
10 ways German completely messes up your English
Photo: DPA

So you've mastered German, but now it's time to learn English all over again.

Iconic German church being eroded away by human urine
Ulm Minster towering over the rest Ulm surrounding the Danube. Photo: Pixabay

It will now cost you €100 to spend a penny. That’s if you get caught choosing to pee against the world-famous Ulm Minster.

German small arms ammo exports grow ten-fold
Photo: DPA

The government has come in for criticism after new figures revealed that Germany exported ten times the quantity of small arms ammunition in the first half of 2016 as in the same period last year.

14-year-old stabs 'creepy clown' in prank gone wrong
File photo: DPA.

A 16-year-old in Berlin decided he wanted to scare some friends, but his plot backfired in a violent way.

Four Ku Klux Klan groups active in Germany, says govt
An American member of the KKK at a gathering in Georgia. Photo: EPA.

The German government estimates that there are four Ku Klux Klan (KKK) groups currently active in the country, according to a report by the Süddeutsche Zeitung (SZ) on Tuesday.

Ex-chancellor Schröder to mediate in supermarket row
Gerhard Schröder. Photo: DPA

Can Gerhard Schröder bring an end to the Kaiser's Tengelmann saga?

Germany's 10 most weird and wonderful landmarks
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
10 things you never knew about socialist East Germany
How Germans fell in love with America's favourite squash
How I ditched London for Berlin and became a published author
12 clever German idioms that'll make you sound like a pro
23 fascinating facts you never knew about Berlin
9 unmissable events to check out in Germany this October
10 things you never knew about German reunification
10 things you're sure to notice after an Oktoberfest visit
Germany's 10 most Instagram-able places
15 pics that prove Germany is absolutely enchanting in autumn
10 German films you have to watch before you die
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
The best ways to get a visa as an American in Germany
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd