Krampus: Saint Nicholas' Dark Companion

While Saint Nicholas may bring gifts to good boys and girls, ancient folklore in Europe's Alpine region also tells of Krampus, a frightening beast-like creature who emerges during the Yule season, looking for naughty children to punish in horrible ways -- or possibly to drag back to his lair in a sack. In keeping with pre-Germanic Pagan traditions, men dressed as these demons have been frightening children on Krampusnacht for centuries, chasing them and hitting them with sticks, on an (often alcohol-fueled) run through the dark streets.

Read more
Hints: View this page full screen. Skip to the next and previous photo by typing j/k or ←/→.

Most Recent

  • CC BY-SA ESA / Rosetta / NavCam

    The Small Bodies of the Solar System

    Images of asteroids, comets, trans-Neptunian objects, meteors, and more

  • Nhac Nguyen / AFP / Getty

    Buddha Day Celebrations in Photos

    Observations of Vesak, or Buddha Day, from several countries across Asia

  • Kevin Lamarque / Reuters

    Photos of the Week: Snowy Ladybug, Shattered Lance, Mexican Smog

    Engineering fashion in Beijing, a luxury houseboat for rising seas, flooding in Paraguay, the Giro d’Italia cycling race in Italy, Buddha’s-birthday observations in Taiwan, skateboarding in Los Angeles, and much more

  • adoc-photos / Corbis via Getty

    100 Years Ago in Photos: A Look Back at 1919

    Please take a moment to look back at some of the events and sights from around the world a century ago.