Everyone pretty much knows the story of Santa Claus, who on Christmas Day rewards well-behaved children and adults with gifts. But what happens to those who have been naughty? According to the folklore of places like Austria, Croatia, Hungary, and Bavaria, these folks are punished by a creature known as Krampus.
Although there are many versions of Krampus, he typically appears as a beast or demon-like monster. He is covered with hair, has the horns and cloven hooves of a goat, and is colored dark brown or black. He is usually shown with a long, pointed tongue, which is rolled out of his cavernous mouth. Krampus is hideous and is meant to have a very disquieting mien.
Krampus is wrapped in chains, some of which also have bells hanging from them. Older stories also tell of Krampus carrying ruten, bundles of birch branches that he creature uses to swat and whip children. In other stories, Krampus carries a large sack (like Santa Claus) or a washtub, both of which are used to capture evil children. It is said that Krampus abducts the worst kids, which he then takes to hell, where they are drowned, devoured, or tormented for an eternity.
So, heed the following warning:
“You better not pout, you better not cry,
You better not curse, I’m telling you why,
Krampus skulks through the fog tonight.”