International Center Blog

Providing International Perspectives About Learning and Living at UM-Flint

December, a time known for family, cheer, food, presents and fun. It begins with cold weather, progressing to snow that covers the bare trees, brown grass and buildings. Then the season reaches its pinnacle when on December 25th, Christmas is celebrated. This festival was of pagan origin, then morphing with the arrival of Christianity to celebrate the birth of the baby Jesus. The legend is that Old Saint Nicholas comes on this night delivering presents to children all over the world. Innocent right? But has it always been this jolly?

The answer to this question can be found in an upcoming movie, Krampus, being released this December 4th. When I first saw the trailer I was a bit freaked out, and started to wonder if the being on which this movie is based actually existed in some type of mythology. Upon investigation, it does. Krampus is an anthropomorphic figure in German-speaking Alpine folklore. He is the companion of Old Saint Nick, however, there is not a fiber of good intention within him.

Krampus is the figure in charge of dealing with bad children, often equipped with a whip and sack. He is covered in fur, with long goat horns and hooves. Anthropologists connect him with the pagan god of the witches. His regalia illustrates the initiation rites of witch-covens of the pre-Christian era, perfectly preserved to modern times. Chains and whip elude to the traditions of mock-death carried out by these covens, involving binding and scourging. The sack it carries is used for kidnapping children, as stated above, in order to take them to the underworld or certain witches so that they may feast on the child’s soul.

If this isn’t enough, I suggest a visit to Austria for the Krampus celebrations…if time-out and grounding doesn’t scare your siblings and/ or children straight…this certainly will.

There is an ongoing debate as to whether Krampus is an appropriate figure for children, and at various points in history the Austrian government has prohibited the celebration of this creature.

All-in-all, if you’re up for a scare, Krampus the movie may just be the perfect antithesis to your warm, cuddly Christmas celebrations.