Krampus: A Scary Creature who Travels with St. Nick in Alpine Cultures


Krampus is a nasty demon with horns and a long red tongue.  His name comes from the word for "Claw".  He accompanies St. Nick on his rounds the night before St. Nick’s Day (December 6th).  St. Nick gives all the good little boys and girls gifts.  Krampus, on the other hand, gives the kids who have been bad a tree branch.  It’s like the threat of getting coal for Christmas. Some form of the Krampus tradition exists in Austria, Bavaria (Germany), Croatia, Hungary and Slovenia. 

There are variations on this tradition.  In some places, groups of men will dress like Krampus and wander around the town.  In others, Krampus will taunt kids – who actually think it’s funny. 

In Hungary, kids are given Virgács which is like a switch (a small branch like a little broom) painted gold to remind them to behave…. but really at this point it’s just a fun tradition!


Feel free to share your traditions about St. Nick or Krampus in the comments below.

And remember… you better watch out, you better not cry, you better not shout I’m telling you why, Krampus Claws is coming to town!

Photo: Store in Hungary selling Virgacs

This article was posted on Tuesday, November 15th, 2011 at 12:25 pm and is filed under Austria, Bavaria, Christmas, Countries & Cultures, Croatia, Customs and Traditions, Germany, Holidays Around the World, Hungary, Krampus, Slovenia, St. Nicholas Day. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

One Response to “Krampus: A Scary Creature who Travels with St. Nick in Alpine Cultures”

  1. Krampus Says:

    Interesting because that’s not what I look like… i have no face except two glowing red eyes and horns that poke out of my clock. I wear the same clothes as saint nick but I have a hood and I’m a darker red.

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