Nationality: Cuban, Hungarian
Residence: Woodland Hills, California
Date of Performance/Collection: March 20, 2013
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s): Some Hungarian
Informant: The Krampus, well the Krampus is a beast-like creature that looks like a devil but with horns and satyr like feet and a really long tongue. He is from the Alpine countries and is related to St. Nicholas day where he follows St. Nicholas around. He punishes naughty children by putting sticks in the shoes they leave out for St. Nicholas, or even worse he will kidnap naughty children, stuff them in his bag, and steal them away to hell, never to be seen again.
The informant is a middle aged mother of two older children. She is a first generation American who was born in Danbury, Connecticut. Her father was born in Oriente, Cuba and her mother was born in Mór, Hungary. The informant and her sisters were told of the Krampus from their mother when they were teenagers. Although the informant does not believe in the Krampus herself, the informant’s mother did. As a child, the informant’s mother would put her shoes out on the Eve of St. Nicholas’s Day, December 5th. On St. Nicholas’s Day, December 6th, is it said that the Krampus would accompany Santa Claus, also known as St. Nicholas. St. Nicholas would put candy and sweets in the shoes of the children who were well-behaved and the Krampus would put sticks and twigs in the shoes of the children who had been naughty. It was also thought that the Krampus would abduct really misbehaved children and take them away to hell.
The informant remembers the tales of the Krampus because she felt it was “funny and creepy at the same time.” The informant felt that Germanic, Hungarian parenting could be very punitive, and still kept “the old-fashioned belief that you can scare children into behaving.”
Although other entires have already discussed the Krampus, they label the Krampus as German folklore. I think it is important to stress that this is not entirely the case, the legend of the Krampus has spread to other countries around Germany like Hungary as the informant who described the Krampus to me is of Hungarian origin. In fact, the legend of the Krampus comes from the folklore of Alpine countries, not solely Germany.
According to the informant, in many countries like Austria, Southern Bavaria, Hungary, Slovenia, Croatia, and the Czech Republic, young men dress up as the Krampus and roam the streets frightening children with rusty chains and bells. Also, the informant said that the Krampus is “featured on holiday cards called Krampuskarten.” (Below are some examples of Krampuskarten)
The Krampus also appears as the subject of a novels such as:
Brom, Gerald. Krampus: The Yule Lord. New York: Harper Voyager, 2012. Print.
And even makes an appearance in the Colbert Report:
“Sign Off – Goodnight With Krampus.” The Colbert Report. Comedy Central. Wednesday December 9, 2009. Television.