Beware, Naughty Children! Krampus Is Coming to Town

Saint Nicholas has one hell of a partner: Krampus. Picture a huge goat on steroids standing on its hind legs with long, shaggy hair all over its body and the coolest horns you’ve ever seen. Oh, it also has a devilish face with a long tongue and menacing claws. Got it? Well, that’s Krampus in a nutshell. This mythical creature stems from ancient Germanic traditions and folklore, way before Christianity took hold of the pagan holidays. It is said that on December 5, Krampus visits every naughty child and punishes them for their bad behavior, be it with beatings or one-year trips to his scary lair. Kind of like the opposite of Santa. Hey, someone’s gotta do the dirty job.

According to Smithsonian, the name ‘Krampus’ comes from the German word krampen, meaning claw. Wicked, right? The children’s story is popular among the grown-ups as well. Hundreds of people dress up as different representations of the beast and terrorize spectators on the streets of several European countries. This tradition, known as Krampuslauf, has grown exponentially and has even made its way the States. Popular culture has also taken hold of the myth, with lots of American movies being made in the name of this gruesome visitor like Krampus (2015) and A Christmas Horror Story (2015). Both of these movies show a westernized take on Krampus, with lots of laughs to ease some of the more terrifying scenes.

So if you’ve been good this year, no need to worry about demon goats. Old Saint Nick will surely reward you. As for the rest of you… I’d sleep with one eye open. Just in case.