Happy Monday! It’s time for Did You Know.
With the arrival of December and the approaching Christmas holiday, many people begin to talk about Krampus, the evil twin/opposite of Santa Claus. Horror fans especially enjoy legendary and modern stories about Krampus.
But did you Krampus has his own day? Well, night, actually.
December 5th is Krampusnacht, or Krampus Night.
According to legend, Krampus is the son of Hel, the Norse god of the underworld, and is thought to have originally been part of ancient winter solstice rituals in the Germanic areas.
So how did he become associated with Christmas?
I’m glad you asked.
December 6th, the day after Krampusnacht, is the original Saint’s Day for the original St. Nicholas, patron saint of children. To simplify, centuries ago it was said St. Nicholas and Krampus would come around the night of the 5th, St. Nicholas would bring sweets and gifts for the good children, and Krampus would punish the wicked children. And, as you know, St. Nicholas later became associated with Christmas celebrations.
Detail of this history seem to change depending on who you ask, but Krampus being instituted as counterpart to the Catholic saint looks like it may have been a cultural response to Christianity pushing out the older religions—especially if one considers the church’s distaste for Krampus. At one time, the Catholic Church forbade Krampus celebrations, but they have made a comeback since. Celebrations include festivals with Krampus costumes and parades. Rumor has it alcoholic beverages are often involved as well.
Happy Krampusnacht, everyone.