Krampus (Annotated)

Throughout the informants childhood, she would learn about the mythological creature, Krampus, a half devil half goat like creative who would punish children who were naughty during the Christmas season. This was at least the a popular rendition of the creature, but it has been said to pre date Christian times and others have brought variation to the creature. In the informants case, she stated that her German grandparents who were each grew up with the Krampus tradition, would be the ones to share the stories, only they would tailor them to fit their own disciplinary mold for their granddaughter. Krampus in the informants eyes acted more like a God who oversaw her year around. Her belief in these tales during adolescents were so strong that she would preach to her friends to be good because “Krampus is watching”.  Parent’s of her friends would get upset with her and subsequently her parents for scaring their children. Despite this, the idea that the Krampus as the all seeing eye stuck with her and her friends for years. Later in life it formed into a long running joke – Whenever they got together and someone would do something they deemed shady or un agreeable they would then bring up the Krampus.


I’ve noticed a trend in my collection of folklore regarding parental figures using some sort entity as a source of disciplining children; Essentially exploiting their naivety. This is in a way is a fundamental concept of religion as well as societal discipline. Something else to note is that the informant grew up in America where Krampus is not nearly as prominent a tradition as in Europe. The essential nature of the creature is contrary to the sort of way Christmas is articulated in mainstream American culture, even back in the mid 20th century. The children’s parents being offended by the sharing of this story seems like a sort of tesetment to the disapproval of this creature within that context. I further inquired with the informant about this perspective and she confirmed that the community she surrounded herself in was very much that of mainstream America and that the creature was not well regarded or understood. Halloween was when it got the most notoriety even though it’s intended associated Holiday is Christmas.


The informant is retired but worked as a secretary for quite some time. She is of German descent and has a great deal of German folklore knowledge that she had learned from her relatives.


Krampus has been subject to many narrative, including a 2015 Chrismtas horror comedy film titled after the creature. It was put out by Uniersal picture in December and was met with mixed reviews. In the film the creature is presented in the traditional manor of the goat demon but his motives for haunting what is a family stuck in a snowed in house during Chrismtas are to punish the family for losing the Chrismtas spirit. This is contrary to its most popular motive where the creature terrorizes those who acted badly. COnsidering this is a corporate product which has ties to many things regarding Christmas, instilling this sort of message that not carrying  about Christmas will lead to punishment could be a profit driven story decision on behalf of the studio.


Krampus. Dir. Michael Dougherty. Perf. Adam Scott. Universal Pictures, 2016. DVD.
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