F O L K L O R E
C H I L D R E N S' B O O K S
P O E T R Y
It's never too early to start thinking about Krampus, the scary counterpart of Santa (or Saint Nicholas, as in this photo from Austria).
Santa brings goodies in a sack, Krampus puts you in a sack.
For parents, Krampus was a useful bogey: "Be good, or else Krampus will carry you off!" Krampus was especially useful during long, cold winters in remote villages where children were cooped up in the house for weeks at a time and adults struggled to get them to behave. Was it cruel to warn them that Krampus would punish them? To reinforce the fiction, masked Krampus figures marched in winter parades. They visited homes to ask parents which children had been naughty and which had been nice. That way, parents could defend their children from Krampus and be the good guys.
I am an author and folklorist based in Portland, Oregon.
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