Long before parents relied on the powers of Santa Claus to monitor their children’s behavior, their counterparts in Alpine villages called on a shaggy-furred, horned creature with a fistful of bound twigs to send the message that they had better watch out…
Besides visiting homes with St. Nicholas, the Krampus has for centuries run through village and town centers spreading pre-Christmas fear and chasing away evil spirits. That tradition dwindled across much of Bavaria during the 1960s and ’70s, as postmodern society moved away from its rural past.
But with cultural homogenization spreading across an increasingly unified Europe, a new generation is bringing back the customs that defined their childhoods, and those of their parents and grandparents.
Travel to Munich, Germany and Grossarl, Austria to see a cultural tradition that dates back to Norse mythology, perhaps sometime between the 11th and 13th centuries. This is Krampus, from the word krampen – claw in German. How is this horned monster carved and released into the streets for a revitalized celebration of folklore? Check out this 2014 video from The New York Times.