The Krampus and Religious Ritual in Germany

Children, beware the Krampus!  “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,” according to the New York Times.


The evil Krampus has long been associated with Christmas festivities in southern Germany, Switzerland, and Austria. The New York Times reports that “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.”

Religious and civic rituals involving the Krampus had declined during the twentieth century, but are now being revived in Krampuslauf festivities in cities like Munich.

Violence, real or imagined, often plays an important role in religious rituals and festivities. Scholars and students of religious violence may be curious about the figure of the Krampus and the revival of the Krampuslauf festivities.

I thank my friend, Stefan Fritsch, professor of Political Science at Bowling Green State University, for his wonderful stories of the Krampus.

The New York Times reports on the Krampuslauf.

This entry was posted in Christianity and Religious Violence, Purity and Pollution, Religiosity, Religious Politics, Rituals and Violence. Bookmark the permalink.

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