Friday Night is Krampus Night!

If you spot any horned, hairy beasts with long, forked tongues wandering about your neighborhood this Friday night (12/05/14), lock your doors and pray you’re not on Santa’s “naughty” list.

Krampusnacht is upon us. The evening of December 5th, on the eve of Saint Nicholas Day, legend tells of a devil-like beast that accompanies Saint Nicholas down from their frozen Arctic home to visit the homes of children everywhere, passing judgment on the nice and the naughty alike. While Saint Nicholas rewards the good children with candy and gifts, his devilish companion, the Krampus, punishes the naughty ones severely.

Depending on just how naughty you’ve been during the year, the Krampus’ punishment can range from leaving you lumps of coal and sticks in your Christmas stocking instead of gifts to whipping and swatting misbehaving kids with birch branches all the way to snatching up particularly naughty children in his sack and carrying them back to his lair for unspeakable torment.

Not many Americans are aware of (or are prepared to deal with) the Christmas Krampus, but this is quickly changing as Krampus Festivals are popping up all over the country from New York to Los Angeles to Dallas to Philadelphia, and the fork tongued beast even has his own website at

The Krampus has even reached the Louisville city limits in haunted attractions at Halloween. He appeared last year in the Haunted Hotel’sBloody X-mas” event ( in a mask and costume specially built by owner Kevin Stich’s and manager Kristen Warf’s Sinister FX Studios ( He also appeared in a brand new Christmas scene debuting at the Devil’s Attic ( in 2014.

Krampus has discovered America and he’s coming to your neighborhood this Friday night.

I first heard about the Krampus years ago, but didn’t learn his true name and identity until recently. I was working at a locally owned business here in the Ville where I often met and befriended many eclectic and well-traveled customers, one of whom had recently returned to Louisville after several years working in Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic.

One year, Christmas season came around and we found ourselves chatting about local traditions, and he told me about a tradition in Prague, which he likened to American traditions of giving gifts of chocolate Easter bunnies at Easter and chocolate hearts on Valentine’s Day, except this tradition involved the gifting of chocolate devils.

I don’t think he understood the tradition in its entirety, but he was fascinated by the local grocery stores’ shelves, which were full of tin foiled wrapped devils every December. I spent several years Googling “Prague” and “chocolate devils” trying to find evidence of this intriguing tradition to no avail until a few years ago I chanced upon a YouTube video of a Krampus Festival in Central Europe and had a name to connect the dots: Krampus.

The Krampus appears to have roots in Germanic folklore going as far back as the pre-Christian era. He is often depicted as a hairy, horned beast with cloven hooves and a long, forked tongue that would make Gene Simmons envious. Like Jacob Marley’s Ghost, the Krampus carries a ponderous chain, often accompanied with bells, which is thought to symbolize the binding of the Devil by the Christian Church. He uses this chain to make a tremendous racket that instills fear in the hearts of naughty children.

The tradition of Krampusnacht, or Krampus Night, is still celebrated across the Alpine countries in Austria, Romania, southern Bavaria, South Tyrol, northern Friuli, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia and Croatia. There are many regional variations of the tradition, but most involve a parade of creepy Krampuses marching through the center of town, clanging their chains and scaring the locals. There is also a tradition of giving and receiving Krampus greeting cards that dates back to the 1800s.

Just like the burgeoning tradition of zombie walks, akin to Louisville’s annual Zombie Attack, there is a rapidly growing base of annual Krampus Crawls springing up all over the nation that seek to replicate the frightening winter festivals across the pond, all of it leading up to the Feast of Saint Nicholas on December 6th.

So if you’ve been naughty this year, lock your doors and bolt your windows before dusk this Friday night, or risk the wrath of Santa Claus’ unsavory partner, the Christmas Krampus!

The Phantom of The Ville

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