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A Terrifying Christmas Tradition

Devils Parade In Krampus Procession
Johannes Simon, Getty Images

Christmas is a time for family togetherness— a heartwarming season for giving gifts and showing appreciation for the ones you love.

The season’s most famous character is Santa Claus, a jolly cherubic individual who gives gifts to well-behaved children. But on the snowy peaks of Europe, a much more sinister presence waits for the holidays to begin.

Krampus is a mythical being who is a part of folklore in Alpine countries.

Krampus is said to be a companion of Saint Nicholas. As the story goes, when a child is naughty, they are tortured and punished by Krampus. If a child is particularly bad, Krampus will carry them back to his lair in a sack, never to be seen again.

Krampus and Saint Nicholas

Version of the legend vary, but Krampus is generally described as a beast with demonic eyes, fangs and a set of horns. He is sometimes portrayed as partially human, but he is most often depicted as large and fur-covered.

Observance of the Krampus tradition has gone in and out of fashion for generations.

While generally confined to European countries surrounding the Alps, traditional Krampus processions, where people dressed as the legendary beast parade through streets rattling chains and scaring children, have been seen in some US cities in recent years.

Learn more about Krampus at

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