December 5: Krampusnacht

In the U.S., tradition holds that Santa Claus comes in the night before Christmas, December 25, bringing presents for the good boys and girls and coal for the naughty children. Well, things are a bit different elsewhere!

Nikolas and Krampus

In several European countries, particularly the Germanic and Slavic areas, Saint Nicholas leaves presents for the good children before they wake up on his feast day on December 6. Friends and family exchange presents on Christmas, but St. Nicholas comes around on the 6th. Furthermore, St. Nicholas doesn’t do anything about the naughty children. That’s where Krampus comes in!


Krampusnacht, or the Night of Krampus, is celebrated late on December 5. Krampus is a demonic beast, or perhaps a bestial demon, that prowls around on December 5, dragging his chains. Sometimes he carries a bundle of sticks to swat naughty children or a basket to carry them away (according to some traditions, for dinner!). “Be good, or Krampus will eat you” sounds a bit more intense than “Be good, or Santa will just bring you coal,” right?

“For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended.”

Romans 13:3

2 responses to “December 5: Krampusnacht

  1. I’ve recently read a few blog posts about using Santa to motivate children to be good. It looks like in the countries that observe this holiday, they believe in negative reinforcement!

  2. 🙂 yeah, a BIT more intense

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