If children misbehave in the US, they're threatened with a lump of coal or no visit from Santa. If kids are bad in Europe, the devil comes calling and his name is "Krampus." Run for your life! This dude is a scary faun-type character who will sneak into your house and rip your ears off or kidnap you if you sass your parents one more time! And don't even think about stealing that candy; Krampus is watching and he's making his own kind of list. Naughty kids get hit with sticks.
There are many iterations of Krampus across Europe, and he is part of holiday celebrations in Germany, Austria, Croatia and other locations. The original St. Nicolas feast day is on December 6, and Krampus comes out the night before to chase after children and frighten them into being good by jangling rusty chains and bells. Nothing is scarier than rusty metal objects and goat monsters! Check out The Atlantic's epic slideshow of Krampus celebrations across the land.
Local publisher and book shopLast Gasp has a large collection of devilish Krampus items for the holidays. Why not scare the crap out of your grandma when you invite her to play gin rummy with your new deck of Krampus playing cards? Or teach the little rascals in your life a lesson with a book full of Krampus stickers to remind them what could happen if they act rotten. Decorate their presents with scary Krampus faces and their horrified reactions could be fun for the whole family! The Krampus greeting cards also come in handy for wishing your enemies an unhappy holiday.
For dark art lovers, Krampus: The Devil of Christmas, a book of illustrations, is a perfect holiday token. Each vintage interpretation of the anti-Santa being creepy and torturing kids has its own special details, and author/designer Monte Beauchamp provides all the history and mythology you need to know.
Need more Krampus? Check out a group art show of Krampus-inspired work at 63 Bluxome Street Gallery, open through January 31, 2014. Merry Krampus to all, and to all a good nightmare.