Posted by: Doc Comics | December 23, 2013

On Evil: ‘Twas the Night Before Krampus…


From CA’s “Great Comics That Never Happened“… but maybe should!

Season’s Greetings, superscholars! Another great semester has come and gone, with so many wonderful students and smart papers. In honor of the winter break, here is a brief look at an Old World European tradition that many are rediscovering in comics and IRL: Krampus the Christmas Demon

In case you don’t spend a lot of time in the darkest corners of the internet, Krampus in 17th century European folklore was the sinister doppelgänger to the kindly Saint Nicholas that we Americans have come to know as Santa Claus. In a dark twist straight out of a Brothers Grimm tale, St. Nick rewarded the good children with gift-giving around the Winter Solstice, while the naughtiness of ill-behaved youngsters was viciously punished by the Krampus, a cloven-hooved Devil in chains with a long lash-like tongue who beat brats with birch switches before stuffing them in a basket for a late-night snack after his rounds. Krampusnacht, or sometimes Krampustag, was the day of judgment that fell on the eve of December 6th Saint Nicholas Day and used to strike terror into every unruly street urchin. It’s not too surprising that our American version of a jolly old elf slow-sippin’ a Coke doesn’t include his nightmare-inducing Demon companion, but you gotta hand it to the Old World traditions for their sheer inventiveness in creating perfectly legit reasons for kids to wet the bed. Threats from parents that you’ll get a lump of coal from Santa in your stocking truly pales in comparison to the Krampus going Pulp Fiction medieval on you for bad behavior!

Over at Comics Alliance, there’s a chin-scratching meditation on the true meaning of Krampus along with some of the Yuletide Demon’s booming comics history, which ponders if the supersaint Santa is the Superman to the avenging Krampus as Batman. Not since Neil Gaiman’s darkly morose reimagining of Santa in “Nicholas was” has there been a more mythic interrogation of the reason for the season. Enjoy your winter break and holiday traditions, true believers, whatever they may be!

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