Lovely looking chap, eh? The tradition of Krampus can be traced back over thousands of years, predating the time of Jesus. We know that the celebration we have since westernized into Christmas was at first a pagan ritual celebrating the Winter Solstice (which comes in today at 5:47p Eastern, by the way).
And 'westernized' we have, Christmas. We know Santa Claus had nothing to do with the Jerusalem manger scene, which is the basis for this holiday (except in Roark Bradford's wonderful book 'How Come Christmas')...in fact, Christmas is a blend of both religious and pagan tradtions melded into one big celebration, as much as some groups want to claim it all as theirs alone.
Here, our red-suited, white-bearded Santa knows the moral side of all of us, and is not beyond putting a lump of coal and maybe a few choice sticks in the stockings of those that have been miscreants. But in Europe, they like to scare the Hell out of the children...literally.
The night of December 5 is when the Krampus wanna-be's come out in force for torch-lit parades. Be it Austria, Bavaria, Germany, and some other countries, Krampus is the Devil-Santa that accompanies Saint Nicholas on his rounds, threatening to weed out the bad girls and boys and take them away from home, eventually tossing them into the pits of Hades.
While I firmly support the idea that many a spoiled brat and badly behaving child would do well to have the Hell scared out of them (maybe their parents, too?), it is a bit discomforting to watch news clips of little kids screaming in fear as parents let these Krampus critters pick up their kids and temporarily carry them off for 'effect'.
There are a few Krampus celebrations held in such expected places as San Francisco and New York City, as followers blend Halloween with big-time gift giving...I don't know about you, but I think I'll stick with my sedate memories of the jolly old man.
Ya learn something new every day. Happy Ho Ho, y'all!