Krampus is coming to town


‘Better watch out; better not cry. Scream, maybe.’

Naughty? Nice? It’s all the same to the Krampus. Not being of German descent, the Krampus hadn’t really registered on my Holiday Radar Screen. (Though I did, oddly enough, have a purse with his image on it — that’s it in the photo above.) But then the New York Times ran a piece on Mr. K, a character who makes Mr. Scrooge seem like Bambi.

The Child encounters Santa. But looks as though she’s meeting Krampus

Here’s the piece for you to read: ‘He Sees You When You’re Sleeping, and Gives You Nightmares’. Though I would recommend waiting till after you read this post. And even then I would make sure there are no kids around, especially if you play the embedded video. Sheesh! Those wacky Germans!

See, the Krampus is like the Polar Opposite (pun intended) of Santa Claus. True, Santa also checks his ‘list’ to see who’s been ‘naughty’ and ‘nice’, but you kind of get the general idea that he would cut you some slack. I mean, when was the last time you actually got a lump of coal in your stocking? Or when there really weren’t any presents under the tree?

The UnKrampus, good ole Santa. (though he looks a tad demented here)

The UnKrampus, good ole Santa. (though he looks a tad demented here)

But if Santa is sort of the ‘carrot’ to good behavior at Christmas, the Krampus is definitely the ‘stick’. In fact, he carries a bundle of sticks to beat Bad Children. But even if he didn’t, wouldn’t the sight of a hulking beast draped in a sheep or goat skin (sometimes boar) and wearing a carved wooded mask with many sharp pointy teeth be enough?

Little Me, being protected from the Krampus by Young (but fierce) Mom

Apparently the Germans (the Bavarians, to be specific) like to have parades where a bunch of Krampuses (Krampi?) march along ringing bells while growling and threatening people with those aforementioned sticks. They bring their little kids to these. For fun.

Makes me ever so grateful to have been raised a Half-Swede. At least the Swedes only torture you with Weird Holiday Foods. Just ask the non-Swede Dude how he feels about korv (greasy, tough, sort of ‘blech’). Or, if you want a really funny reaction, ask him about lutefisk (!) This is a traditional dish comprised of a bowl of custard with a hunk of limestone-soil-cured fish buried in it.

Dad, not a lutefisk lover, holding court at the Christmas table to distract Gramma and Uncles from same

My Gramma used to love to pass the lutefisk to unsuspecting Christmas-dinner Newbies and watch their faces as they politely dug in. (For more on interesting Swedish cuisine, check out my post ‘Proof that Swedes are Genuises’. Hint: it’s not the food.)

And yes, we did have Santa at those Peterson Christmases. Oddly enough, one of the Uncles used to disappear right before Santa showed up. We always felt sorry for that Uncle, and put his presents in a pitiful little pile for later when he returned from whatever mysterious errand was so all-fired important that it took him away from Santa.

My Mom must have been very very good that year. No Krampus to be seen.

My Mom must have been very good that year. No Krampus to be seen.

Here’s hoping all of you are either not Bavarian-German, or have been very good this year. So you can have a jolly Krampus-free Christmas. And a most joyous New Year too, of course.

And don’t forget, if you’re stumped for last-minute gift ideas (today is┬áChristmas Eve, so it’s officially ‘Last-Minute’), hang on to your coal and consider stuffing those stockings with the gift that keeps on giving (at least till I get sick and tired of writing this stuff): a subscription to

Just enter his/her email address in the ‘Subscribe’ box on my homepage, and your grateful giftee will receive a fresh shiny-new story each Tuesday. I promise not to tell that you didn’t spend a single cent. It’s the thought that counts, after all.

And, speaking of thoughts, don’t forget to share yours. My comments box is always open. Even on holidays.

New York City. December 2014

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15 thoughts on “Krampus is coming to town

  1. He sounds nearly as scary as that blughhh custard. Why That is all I can say really why would they have a nasty Christmas. And Grandparents should be nice not go hiding fish in custard *heave*

    • Hahahaha!!! My sentiments exactly. And I’m half Swedish! But honest to Pete (or the Krampus), lutefisk is a Real Thing, and Real Swedes really LIKE it. As for me, give me Swedish Fish any time. Though my Swedish relatives look at me funny when I talk about it. Apparently Swedish Fish is about as Swedish as French Toast is French. Or something like that.

  2. I had vaguely heard about these creatures, Alice, but never saw them until you brought them to light. Stuff of nightmares! I enjoyed watching the wood carver. I wonder what he dreams about. Thanks for writing and may you always be a good girl.

    • Thanks, Judy. I just rewatched the imbedded NY Times video, to check out the woodcarver. Who is kinda cute, for a guy who makes scary masks for a living. Maybe he has nightmares about Barbie Dolls (?) And yes, I am trying my utmost to be a good enough girl that I keep Krampus away!

  3. Ara

    Even Santa doesnt get a break!! Enjoyed the reading. My culture has something similar but not on christmas. They are called Diablo Cojuelo or Calife. They use them in parades as well. You should look it up

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