You better watch out,
You better not cry,
You better not pout
I’m telling you why,
Santa Claus is coming to town!’
As children, we were all chided for behaving during December with this reasoning. If we were extra-special good, Santa Claus would come and give us presents. If we misbehaved, we would end up on Santa’s Naughty List and wake up to lumps of coal in our stockings. But in Austria, children have a much scarier reason to behave: The Krampus.
Krampus doesn’t originate from Christmas traditions but dates back to pre-Germanic pagan practices. He is the son of the Norse god of the underworld, half-goat, and half-demon. His name comes from the word krampen, which means claw. Over time, he became the evil to Santa’s good, threatening to punish naughty children, or even worse, kidnap them and drag them back to the underworld. Adults would dress up as Krampus on Krampusnacht, or Krampus Night, to frighten kids.
Another terrifying event taking place around Christmas time was Krampuslauf, or Krampus Run, where dozens of grown men dressed up as Krampus, running through the streets, terrorizing adults and children alike.
This may seem barbaric, but the Krampuslauf are still going on to this very day. People still dress up as nightmare-fueling creatures and charge through the streets each year. So, you better watch out, and you better not cry because more than Santa Claus may be coming to town.
Fergus keeps getting away! Can you bring him back home again?
You found me again,
But I want to explore!
Sitting in a classroom,
It is such a bore!
Now I’m cleverly hiding.
In the bigger of places you play
I think on a chair in a shadow
That’s where I’m going to stay!