I’m all for a little scare to the little ones, but when I learned of Krampusnacht, even I needed to temper it a bit. Turns out there’s a Germanic myth surrounding St. Nicholas. (I have German heritage, so I feel obligated to give it a go). Turns out that St. Nicolas would visit houses on the eve of his sainthood, December 6th (read, his death). So we’re off to a morbid start.
In anticipation of this visit, the household would leave out their shoes. If the children in question were good, then St. Nicholas (and I suppose the angel) would slip some candies in the shoes.
This is all good. Kids get to mack out on treats. Everyone’s happy. Oh, did we forget the devil being led by chains behind the angel. Well, he has a purpose. If the kids were naughty, then he would chase them around (and possibly torture them) until they promised to be good.
Apparently, if you refused to repent, then he’d stuff you in a basket and take you to hell (no confirmation if this is the origin of “hell in a handbasket”).
St. Nicolas seems fine with all this. In fact, the Krampus serves as his personal chauffeur.
This is an amazing print by Phineas X. Jones for the Krampus.
I’ll leave you with a “cute” postcard of the Krampus sailing off into the sky with some (I’m hoping naughty) babies.
You dig up the most amazing stories. This is the first I’ve heard of Krampusnacht, and he scares the bejeeses out of me. “Going to Hell in a handbasket” I always wondered what that saying meant. Now I know! I don’t need confirmation. 😉
Lucky for me, my daughter only focused on the chocolate.
Although its not meant to be funny I died laughing at this! My son came home totally freaked out about St. Nikolas – we recently moved to Germany and they learned his story in school but it was much more dark than what I had heard. He came home with something very similar to the above story you have here. I thought what he was saying was strange then I googled some things and kept verifying what he learned – this was closest to what he heard at school but I wonder why 1st graders need to hear something so seemingly evil and dark?? He actually cried and said he ‘didn’t want to be chased around, and didn’t want to go to hell.’ I must admit after seeing this version, I want someone to sleep in the bed with me to!
Even though we celebrate this every year, my daughter (6) still gets a little nervous about the thought of being “eaten” by the grampuses. We assure her that if you “want” to be good, then you’ll survive.
[…] Read my full article on this lovely fellow here. […]