In the lore of Germanic Europe lies the tale of the Krampus, a devilish creature whose duty is to punish misbehaving children — a sharp contrast to beloved St. Nicholas, a protector of children. In some parts of especially Eastern Europe, young men dress up as the Krampus on the eve of St. Nicholas’ Day (which is today, Dec. 6, so this would have been last night), ratting chains and ringing bells.
But there are many names for the Krampus, and many stories surrounding him. According to American comic-book writer Benito Cereno (“Tales From the Bully’s Pulpit,” “Hector Plasm,” “The Tick”), he’s often misunderstood.
On a webpage devoted to the creature, Cereno wrote,
“In many descriptions and depiction of the Krampus across the Internet, he is frequently described as the anti-Santa, the villain of Christmas. That is he is the Christmas Satan to Santa’s Christmas God, in some kind of Manichean duality; that the two are locked in some sort of battle for children’s lives. This, I feel, shows a misunderstanding of the Krampus on a fundamental level.
“First of all, it’s important to remember that the Krampus is the companion of Saint Nicholas. They’re on the same team. Furthermore, the chains the Krampus wears are there to remind you that he is subordinate to the Saint’s power. Whatever evil he may have once represented has been defeated, and evil has been turned to the forces of good.”
There’s a lot more; click here to read and see several historic illustrations of the Krampus.
For Christmas 2013, Cereno also partnered with artist Evan “Doc” Shane to tell a comic-strip version of St. Nicholas and the Krampus, a k a the Klaubauf, a Bavarian variant of the creature who bakes children into pies.
Click here to see the whole story, in which the saint turns out not only to be holy but pretty savvy as well.
Also, yesterday (Dec. 5), the U.K. Mirror published an article looking at a new image of Nicholas, who was the Bishop of Myra, located in modern Turkey, as rendered by academics at Liverpool John Moores University. Click here to see the whole story, but below find a sneak peek …
Happy St. Nicholas’ Day!