A Visit From Krampus—Saint Nick’s Dark Companion

While tales of Saint Nicholas feature him bringing gifts to good boys and girls, ancient folklore in Europe’s Alpine region also speaks of Krampus, a frightening beastlike 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. Krampus associations in villages hold parades without Saint Nick, frightening children on Krampusnacht, chasing them and hitting them with sticks, during an (often alcohol-fueled) run through the dark streets.

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