Krampus: The Dark Companion of Saint Nick (16 pics)




While Saint Nicholas may bring gifts to good boys and girls, ancient folklore in Europes Alpine region also tells of Krampus, a frightening beast-like creature who emerges during the Yule season, looking for naughty children to punish in horrible ways—or possibly to drag back to his lair in a sack. In keeping with pre-Germanic Pagan traditions, men dressed as these demons have been frightening children on Krampusnacht for centuries, chasing them and hitting them with sticks, on an (often alcohol-fueled) run through the dark streets.

A man dressed as a devil performs during a Krampus show in the southern Bohemian town of Kaplice on

A man dressed as a devil performs during a Krampus show in the southern Bohemian town of Kaplice on December 13, 2014. Each year people in traditional costumes and masks parade through the streets to perform an old ritual to disperse the ghosts of winter.

A participant dressed as the Krampus creature scares onlookers during the Krampus gathering in Goric

A participant dressed as the Krampus creature scares onlookers during the Krampus gathering in Goricane, Slovenia, on November 21, 2015. Four hundred participants in 20 groups from Slovenia, Austria, Italy, and Croatia participated in the 4th annual Krampus gathering in the village of Goricane.

A participant dressed as the Krampus creature scares onlookers during the Krampus gathering in Goric

A participant dressed as the Krampus creature scares onlookers during the Krampus gathering in Goricane, Slovenia, on November 21, 2015.

A man dressed as a Krampus, the companion of St. Nicholas and one of Austria's unique Advent tra

A man dressed as a Krampus, the companion of St. Nicholas and one of Austria's unique Advent traditions, takes part in a traditional Krampus procession in Lofer, Austria, on November 30, 2013.

A man dressed as Krampus takes part in a parade at Munich's Christmas market on December 14, 201

A man dressed as Krampus takes part in a parade at Munich's Christmas market on December 14, 2014. Young single men will wear the traditional attires known as ‘Krampus,’ consisting of animal skins and masks, with large cow-bells to make loud and frightening noises and parade through the city. They follow ‘Saint Nicholas’ from house to house in December each year to bring luck to the good and punish the idle.

A man dressed in a traditional Perchten costume and mask performs during a Perchten festival in the

A man dressed in a traditional Perchten costume and mask performs during a Perchten festival in the western Austrian village of Kappl, Austria, on November 13, 2015.

Participants dressed as Krampus walk the streets in search of delinquent children during a Krampus r

Participants dressed as Krampus walk the streets in search of delinquent children during a Krampus run on November 28, 2015, in Salzburg, Austria.

A man dressed in traditional Perchten costume and mask performs in the western Austrian village of H

A man dressed in traditional Perchten costume and mask performs in the western Austrian village of Huben on November 22, 2014.

Woodcarver Richard Kranawetvogl starts to carve a Krampus mask in his workshop in Marktschellenberg,

Woodcarver Richard Kranawetvogl starts to carve a Krampus mask in his workshop in Marktschellenberg, Germany, on November 28, 2015 . Kranawetvogl specializes in the fearsome masks and makes them for local Krampus associations, which have become increasingly popular in recent years.

Krampus masks are displayed in the workshop of woodcarver Richard Kranawetvogl on November 28, 2015,

Krampus masks are displayed in the workshop of woodcarver Richard Kranawetvogl on November 28, 2015, in Marktschellenberg, Germany.

A participant dressed as the Krampus creature greets a child during the Krampus gathering in Gorican

A participant dressed as the Krampus creature greets a child during the Krampus gathering in Goricane, Slovenia, on November 21, 2015.

Participants dressed as Krampus walk the streets in search of delinquent children during a Krampus r

Participants dressed as Krampus walk the streets in search of delinquent children during a Krampus run on November 28, 2015, in Salzburg, Austria.

Krampus creatures walk the streets in search of delinquent children during a Krampus run in Salzburg

Krampus creatures walk the streets in search of delinquent children during a Krampus run in Salzburg, Austria, on November 28, 2015 .

A participant dressed as the Krampus creature scares onlookers during the Krampus gathering in Goric

A participant dressed as the Krampus creature scares onlookers during the Krampus gathering in Goricane, Slovenia, on November 21, 2015.

Participants dressed as Krampus search for delinquent children during a Krampus run on November 28,

Participants dressed as Krampus search for delinquent children during a Krampus run on November 28, 2015, in Salzburg, Austria.

A man dressed in a traditional Perchten costume and mask performs during a Perchten festival in the

A man dressed in a traditional Perchten costume and mask performs during a Perchten festival in the western Austrian village of Kappl on November 13, 2015. Each year in November and January, people in the western Austria regions dress up in Perchten (also known in some regions as Krampus or Tuifl) costumes and parade through the streets to perform a 1,500-year-old pagan ritual to disperse the ghosts of winter.




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