Have you been good this year?
In the alpine nations of Europe, jolly Saint Nick has a terrifying companion. Krampus is a hairy horned beast that crawls out from the black forests every holiday season. With his rusty chains and heavy ruten birch switch, the hellish holiday hinderer creeps from village to village, terrorizing naughty boys and girls before scooping them up and carrying them off into the night.
The demonic creature dates back to pre-Christian traditions, and was incorporated into Christmas around the 17th century. Festive Europeans with a taste for the nightmarish began exchanging Krampuskarten holiday cards by the 1800s. Many featured Krampus gleefully dragging children to their doom, while others were so bawdy they’d make Mrs. Claus blush.
Today, Krampus fanatics continue the tradition with Krampusnacht processions. On December 5th, the night preceding the Feast of Saint Nicholas, men in towns from Germany to Hungary don devilish costumes and stalk the streets, threatening any child who crosses their path.
While Saint Nicholas sometimes appears during the procession, he only concerns himself with the good children. Naughty boys and girls are left to menacing holiday devil.
Looking to add a little horror to your holidays? Look through our favorite Krampus cards in the slideshow below (via ), then check out Monte Beauchamp’s fiendishly good anthology of illustrations . It’s the perfect gift for the creepy beast in your life.