Krampus is the dark companion of Santa, the traditional European winter gift-bringer who rewards good children each year on the Solstice. Kindly old St Nic leaves the task of punishing bad children to a hell-bound counterpart - the horned devil Krampus!
He has many names across the continent — Knecht Ruprecht, Certa, Perchten, Black Peter, Schmutzli, Pelznickel, Klaubauf, and naturally his main alias, Krampus. Usually seen as a classic devil with horns, cloven hooves and monstrous tongue, but can also be spotted as a sinister gentleman dressed in black, or a hairy man-beast. Krampus punishes the naughty children, swatting them with switches and rusty chains before dragging them away in baskets to a fiery place below.
Krampusnach (Night of Krampus) is celebrated on Krampusnacht, which takes place on December 5th. In Austria, Northern Italy and other parts of Europe, party-goers masquerade as devils, wild-men, and witches to participate in Krampuslauf (Krampus Run). Intoxicated and bearing torches, costumed devils caper and carouse through the streets terrifying child and adult alike. Krampusnacht is increasingly being celebrated in other parts of Europe such as Finland and France, as well as in many American cities and has real Halloween feel to it.
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