- According to Nat Geo News, Krampus is a demonic figure who carries “a bundle of birch sticks meant to swat naughty children. He then hauls the bad kids down to the underworld.” (Ho, ho, ho!) Krampus isn’t the only evil holiday figure in Western traditions, however. What are some other dastardly Christmas characters?
- The Grinch. (“Every Who down in Whoville liked Christmas a lot. The Grinch, who lived just north of Whoville, did not.”)
- Ebenezer Scrooge. (“Bah! Humbug!” Read A Christmas Carol here, and read about its legacy in our tiny article here.)
- All those bullies who wouldn’t let poor Rudolph join in any reindeer games.
- Heat Miser, Snow Miser, Hans Gruber . . .
- The Nat Geo News article describes a modern tradition of Krampuslauf—a “Krampus run” (or, according to Jimmy Kimmel and Christoph Waltz, a “Krampus Con”) when partygoers dress up as Krampus and chase people through the streets. (Check out The Atlantic‘s nice 2013 photo gallery of Krampusnacht and Krampuslauf festivities.) This tradition has some roots in U.S. cities such as Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Bloomington, Indiana; and St. Louis, Missouri. Why do you think these areas have a longer history with Krampusnacht than cities such as Los Angeles, California (which also has a Krampusnacht now)?
- Germanic immigrants (from Germany, Austria, and Prussia) immigrated to these regions in large numbers during the 19th century. These immigrants brought their traditions and culture with them.
- Can you think of other legendary figures that help people celebrate the holidays?
- Hanukkah Harry is a personification of Hanukkah who, in the words of novelist Jonathan Safran Foer, “delivers gifts that are in no way dependent on children’s good behavior.”
- The Yule goat accompanied carolers and, sometimes, Santa Claus, on their rounds in Scandinavia.
- The Yule cat is not as nice. He eats Icelanders who have not processed enough wool to make themselves new clothes for the holidays.
- Befana is a beneficent Italian Christmas witch who delivers presents.
- Ded Moroz is a Slavic Santa-type legend. Russia’s version of GPS, GLONASS, even tracks Ded Moroz in the same way that NORAD tracks Santa!
- Schnappviecher, Smrt, Kukeri, and other “Wild Men” of Europe. Look through their spectacular Nat Geo photo gallery here.
- Olentzero is a Basque giant who distributes presents.