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Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Decemystery (2019) 4: Krampus


I was given the choice between this legend and The Rake. I can't fathom why I'd not pick the latter given the basis for the Rake is one that could be considered realistic. It is, after all, something that's a lot more true to life than Santa Claus.

Or is it?

The worldwide toy delivering fat man who we as children send letters to in the hopes of getting the shiniest new truck, doll, and remaster/port of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is one that we grow out of. There's no denying that. However, Santa has an opposite who dies more than give naughty kids coal.

Named Krampus, this ghoulish being is the kindness of monster one would expect to see accompanying a death metal band when on tour. Luckily, he doesn't exist. Entry over, right?

Not quite. YouTube has to make life difficult for me. See, if you go ahead and search for “Krampus real life”, you're greeted by some who claim to have really seen or encountered Santa's opposite. I guess the saying is true: a sucker is born every minute.

The Anti-Santa: The Mystery of Krampus

The origin of Krampus isn't clear, though many believe it predates Christianity and is most prominent in central Europe.

As for his story, some say that he is one of Saint Nicholas's companions. This means that good ole Santa travels around with something that's described as being half-goat, half-demon. Other features to Krampus are that he's: hairy, clawed, and beats children who've misbehaved with sticks. Others say he merely chases the children to scare them.

However, not every region abides by this. For some, Krampus operates on his own accord, divorced entirely from Santa. His purpose and actions remain more or less the same though. He visits those who've misbehaved and punishes them.

Now let's move onto the real life accounts. As stated at the start: there are some YouTube videos about real life encounters with the Christmas devil himself. My primary source for this—to get an idea for the supposed sightings with him—was a video by a channel I'm personally extremely fond of called Darkness Prevails. His videos are narrations of user submitted stories about scary encounters with terrifying creatures, weird individuals, and other horrifying tales.

With this particular video, there are five stories that were submitted by viewers who allegedly encountered Krampus. I'll simply be going over the basics of the sightings as a whole. I apologize if this seems like I'm jipping you of content, but this series was one that I was heavily strapped for time on. I started it, canceled it, then restarted it. I'm not good at planning if you can't tell.

Anyways, the general basis for every one of these stories is very similar. The storyteller encounters a hairy demon, though there are some unusual differences. For example: in one instance, Krampus is wearing a black robe. In another, Krampus looks to have wood on him.

These variations aren't completely unheard of when discussing creatures akin to Krampus. For example: Skinwalkers and Wendigos are known for having quite the variance in their encounters. However, at their heart, they're all very similar. Both creatures wish to inflict physical harm to their victims and likely feast upon them.

Krampus is similar to a slight degree, though his intentions don't seem malicious. If anything, he seems much more spiritual when it comes to his encounters and sightings. Exactly why isn't clear given none of the stories go into enough detail or simply didn't last long enough. Besides the first story which explicitly stated that Krampus left behind large hoofprints, no story gives enough detail as to the marks Krampus left behind or the signs that he'd been there.

In fact, it's like Krampus was a hallucination.

This, should one take these accounts as fact, would imply that Krampus is a spirit of some sort and not a physical being like the aforementioned Skinwalkers and Wendigos. However, given that some of the stories imply that Krampus can physically interact with objects (such as one where Krampus is playing with the ornaments on a Christmas Tree), I have to wonder how powerful of an entity Krampus is.

That, for the most part, covers the entirety of the Krampus sightings. While I apologize once more for not going into the stories in more detail, they more or less amount to the same thing. Person has some sort of negative experience, they see Krampus, he scares them, he vanishes. There is, unfortunately, no instances of Krampus beating anyone with a stick. There are, however, a fair number of theories. So let’s get into them.


#1: Krampus is real

The most simplistic and upfront of the theories: this one posits as it advertises on the tin. Krampus is real; the legend is one that’s rooted in complete fact. If the stories as presented by Darkness Prevails are to be believe in this case, it would appear that Krampus seeks out those who’ve both misbehaved in the past and in the present. The first story told is from someone who visits their family after they’d had a major fight with them. They’d grown up hearing the legend of Krampus and at 1 in the morning on Christmas Day, the person is awoken by a sound coming from outside the door. When they go to investigate, they see Krampus, who tells them to open the door.

Given that the fight is said to have happened years prior, one would have to suspect that Krampus isn’t bound to the concept of having misbehaved since last Christmas. It also doesn’t seem like Krampus follows his targets since between the time this person claims they had the argument to them visiting their family, they’d moved from Maine to Washington state.

That, however, can be passed off as Krampus residing in the location that the person’s misbehavior occurred in. Besides, one has to also take into account the possibility that Krampus was there for another reason and merely recognized the presence of the storyteller. On top of this, I’ve already stated this year that legends have to originate from somewhere. So it only stands to reason that Krampus’ origin is rooted in fact, no?

To some, this is indeed the case. For others, it isn’t. Some see stories like the ones presented in Darkness Prevails’ video as the real life accounts of encounters with the Christmas devil himself. To some, this is delusional thinking while to others, it’s having an open mind. I’m not one to judge based on what one does and doesn’t believe. That said: we have more theories to cover though, so let’s get to them.

#2: Krampus is a demon

This theory states that Krampus is a malicious being that seeks to merely terrify those that see him. Exactly where he came from isn't clear, but some demons are more mischievous in nature than the ones we see constantly portrayed in contemporary media; the ones that possess little girls and make them contort like they're playing a game of Twister.

The idea that an entity like Krampus is really a demon isn't something novel. This has been applied to Skinwalkers and Wendigos too; they're a type of demon that inhabits the Earth. But given it's rooted in religious/spiritual elements, it's something I've seldom seen agreed upon.

That said: this idea doesn’t necessarily need to be applied into a fully theological picture. For some, the idea of a demon isn’t inherently one that’s related to a Hell or underworld of some sort. Rather, a demon is merely a conjuration of some sort of negative energy; a sort of manifestation of the negativity that someone emits. This has been sometimes presented as the explanation for poltergeists. Many instances of poltergeist hauntings often involves a teen girl going through puberty and some believe that the hormonal changes the girl’s going through are create the malevolent spirit.

In the case of Krampus, the idea is that he’s somehow a manifestation of the negativity that the person is experiencing. Whether or not you believe this is entirely based on how you interpret the concept of demons and other negative entities like them.

#3: They're all hoaxes and/or made-up stories

Although Darkness Prevails is a channel I enjoy immensely, it's also a channel that requires you to take a grain of salt when diving into it. At its heart: you're taking the word of otherwise anonymous individuals at face value. When dealing with topics like the paranormal and supernatural, you're undoubtedly going to get a lot of people who want to try their hand at horror fiction or to have a story read by their favorite story time YouTuber.

As such, it isn't too far fetched to believe that the stories—or some of them—were made up for the sake of entertainment. However, what of the claims outside of Darkness Prevails' video?

Although the likelihood that every single reported sighting of Krampus is a hoax, there's an argument to be made that they could be cases of mistaken identity. Like a bear walking on its hindlegs. However, given there are many stories that I could find, I could be wrong.

#4: It's mistaken identity and Krampus is really a Wendigo

The Wendigo is something we'll get into sometime in the near future. For now, let's make one thing clear. It is, by all accounts, not something that will scare you and run off once it's done. In my experiences: the Wendigo is the kind of creature that is fury incarnate.

This theory is bunk. Let's move on.

#5: Krampus is spirit of nature

Similar to the second theory, but a bit more druidic in nature, this theory states that Krampus is more or less a spirit animal. Only less cool and more stick beating.

I'm not one to judge people based on their beliefs, so I won't touch upon the concept of druidism. However, I'm skeptical to the concept of Krampus being a nature spirit. But to each their own.

My Take

I consider myself to be an open minded person who's willing to entertain the ideas of many unusual creatures. For example: the Ningen, an aquatic humanoid that allegedly resides in Antarctica, is something I believe to possibly be real. The ocean, as we've discussed this month, could possibly house many odd creatures.

However, Krampus is something different. Perhaps it's because his origin is rooted in the area of him being the opposite of Santa. Or perhaps it's the lack of supposedly true scary stories involving the legend himself. Whatever the case may be: Krampus is something I don't believe exists. That's likely for the better though. At least children won't be beaten with sticks by a hairy old man with dental issues.

Tyler’s Take

I'll just say, for most people, you learned about Krampus from The Office when Dwight dressed up as him, or the 2015 Christmas horror film. For me it was actually the latter. It’s a great folk tale, and a good summary of how Germany doesn't mess around, even with holidays. It’s not real obviously, but it’s a good story. The children of Germany are in no doubt happy it’s not real, especially baby Hitler...


While the legend of Krampus may not be real, his legacy is as live as that of Santa Claus. For example: in 2015, Michael Dougherty—the man who helmed the absolutely amazing Trick 'r' Treat and Godzilla: King of the Monsters—wrote and directed a horror-comedy centered around the Christmas devil himself. That, among other portrayals of Krampus, has kept the legend alive and well. To me, that's what matters the most with stories like this.

If I presented any misinformation, notify me in the comments section and then mail Krampus about how I was a bad writer.

1 comment:

  1. " For example: the Ningen, an aquatic humanoid that allegedly resides in Antarctica, is something I believe to possibly be real."

    ...Okay, so yea perfectly fuckable then.

    But yeah, the Krampus is an interesting legend, but not perfectly fuckable. It's just... well one of those things. I personally think it's a legend, something to scare children into behaving but it's a fun one innit? The anti-Claus.