Mythical Monday: Krampus, the Christmas Devil by Mae Clair

Although I am attending a tech conference today, it’s been far too long without a new Mythical Monday, so . . .

Who could forget the song, Santa Claus is Coming to Town? How about the lyrics “he knows if you’ve been bad or good, so be good for goodness sake!” Well, apparently, if your name is etched on Santa’s naughty list, there’s a chance you could end up with a lot worse than a lump of coal in your Christmas stocking.

Recently, I discovered a tale from Germanic folklore in which good ole’ St. Nick has an enforcer named Krampus for his dirty work—a nasty looking fellow with horns, cloven feet, and a ginormous forked tongue. Half-goat, half-demon, it’s the job of this nightmarish creature to mete out discipline. He hulks about trailing bells and clanking chains, creating an ominous racket. Decked out with a bundle of birch sticks, he uses the switches for whipping naughty children. His victims are beaten, then stuffed into a basket and carted to the underworld where they are served up as dinner, or perish in flame.

Hardly what you think about around Christmas-time.

Lots of old legends have a grim twist to them, many focused on children who are eaten or worse, but I thought this one appalling. Maybe because it’s centered around Christmas, which is supposed to be a time of good will.

The legend of Krampus is centuries old and is still shared in many Alpine countries. Some places even host parades in which men dress up as Krampus and roam the streets.

Traditionally, Krampus appears on “Krampusnacht” also known as Krampus night. This is the evening before St. Nicholas Day, December 6—a time when you definitely want to ensure your name is on Santa’s “good” list.

dsI discovered this chilling legend through a book I read recently, THE DARK SERVANT, by Matt Manochio. The title showed up on one of my email subscription lists and I was intrigued enough by the blurb to give it a go. Part thriller, part horror story, part YA novel, THE DARK SERVANT has Krampus showing up in modern day New Jersey and snatching several high school kids with bad attitudes.

The protagonist of the book is the sheriff’s seventeen-year-old son. Billy begins to put the pieces together and soon realizes the abductions have been perpetrated by a hulking, hairy monster with a nasty talent for inflicting pain. Too bad for Krampus he’s snatched Billy’s brother because Billy isn’t about to let Krampus haul him to the underworld—even if the adults are clueless about the true danger.

This was a page-turner, and I do recommend checking it out if this type of read appeals to you. I loved it! Personally, I love almost anything with a creature on the loose, especially when said creature gets to rampage in a modern-day setting.

I can’t say, however, that I have any desire to meet Krampus in the flesh. Fiction and folklore is much more preferable.

What about you? Have you ever heard of this “Christmas Devil” before, or is he new to you, too?

21 thoughts on “Mythical Monday: Krampus, the Christmas Devil by Mae Clair

  1. This Krampus character is a pagan addition to the Christian St. Nicholas day, a fusion of beliefs. While St. Nicholas is a gentle character offering children rewards for their good behavior and only leaving a stick in their boots if they were naughty, Krampus is something resembling more the American Halloween. It seems the gore and scary is so attractive to people around the world. We are in Europe but don’t share, for the moment, the Krampus bizarre festivity. Like you, I wouldn’t like to meet Krampus. After all, I wasn’t naughty.
    Thank you for the post and best of luck with today’s conference!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi, Carmen, I’m home from the conference and relaxing now. When I wrote this post I wondered if you would be familiar with the legend. I can’t imagine sharing in these bizarre festivities and am glad to hear you don’t. At the same time it’s interesting to know these legends existed and were embraced in many parts of the world. I much prefer the ” good will” of Christmas!

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    • The tech conference was geared toward real estate, but I brought home several ideas I can also employ as an author. It’s amazing how much both of my careers cross in relation to marketing techniques. 🙂

      Isn’t the cover for The Dark Servant awesome? It’s chilling and intriguing at the same time. Such a creepy legend but the author did a great job of turning it into a riveting story.

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    • Hi, Alicia. It’s always so nice to have you drop by. The tech conference was pretty good (minus the building evacuation…short interlude, LOL). I’m with you on being a good girl. Whew! So glad Krampus won’t come calling.

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  2. I’d not heard of Krampus here in the UK. Naughty children here are sometimes told Santa will only leave them coal and soot and no gifts. I think that’s bad enough. The Krampus character is a scary nightmare. The Dark Servant sounds like a good read.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi, Daisy. It was an awesome read and I highly recommend it. We have the legend about getting coal and no gifts too. A horrible way to wake up to Christmas morning, but then hopefully so few really do. 😉

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    • Thankfully, I was spared the legend of Krampus in childhood too, Debbie. I’ll take good old St. Nick any day over his ghastly enforcer. Glad you enjoyed the post, even if it was on the darker side. Legends are always so interesting no matter their slant.

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  3. I have heard of Krampus but only because I am an adult fan of Scooby-Doo! The newest “version” of the series that was released by Cartoon Network in the last few years had a Krampus in it as one of the mysteries and “monsters” they solved in their town, Crystal Cove. I was actually quite impressed with this series – it had good mysteries each episode plus a running mystery that covered 3 seasons of episodes and was very engaging. It used old legends and unfamiliar monsters (such as the Krampus) to forward the overall story.

    Who knew a monster education from Scooby-Doo Mystery Incorporated would be so beneficial? 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ooo, I lived Scooby as a kid but haven’t followed any of the new eps. I still watch the old ones when they’re on (I’m an adult who loves cartoons). How cool to know the Mystery Machine crew went up against Krampus. I’m going to have to check out this new series of Scooby toons. Thanks for the heads up!

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      • Check out Cartoon Network cause that is where the show originated. I know it ran on three “seasons” here in Canada on our version of that network. Enjoy!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi Mae,

    Love this. Never heard of it before. If I knew about it, I might have been able to scare my children into behaving. The book sounds really good. I need to read some more YA while I’m writing my YA Urban Fantasy. Nice to have Mythical Monday back!

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    • Hi, Mary! *waving madly* I thought of you when I was reading this. There’s a strong dose of horror and folklore but the YA elements are great. I think you’d fine the characters intriguing. Hope all has been well. I know you’ve got your hands full. Looking forward to the end of May and a return to critiquing!

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